Can the One True Bug Be the One True Answer? the Influence of Prairie Restoration on Hemiptera Composition

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Biology


Department of Biology


Chelse Prather


Ohio historically hosted a patchwork of tallgrass prairies, which provided habitat fornative species and prevented erosion. As these vulnerable habitats have declined in the last 200 years due to increased human land use, restorations of these ecosystems have increased, and it is important to evaluate their success. The Hemiptera (true bugs) are an abundant and varied order of insects including leafhoppers, aphids, cicadas, stink bugs, and more. They play important roles in grassland ecosystems, feeding on plant sap and providing prey to predators. Hemipteran abundance and composition can respond to grassland restorations, age of restoration, and size and isolation of habitat. I investigated the effects of these variables on the abundance and composition of Hemiptera within 13 Ohio prairies in order to answer 4 questions regarding prairie restoration: Do older constructed prairies resemble remnant prairies in hemipteran abundance, diversity, and composition more than they resemble newer constructed prairies? Does the size of a prairie fragment affect the abundance, diversity, and composition of Hemiptera? Does the distance of a prairie to an agricultural field affect the abundance, diversity, and composition of Hemiptera? Do any hemipteran morphospecies indicate particular prairie types? Insect samples were taken via sweep net from 13 prairies (6 remnant, 4 old constructed, 3 new constructed) in 4 southwestern Ohio counties in summer 2019, and were sorted to order. I then sorted hemipterans to family and morphospecies, and analyzed their abundance and composition. I found no significant difference in hemipteran abundance or number of families/morphospecies between remnant, old constructed, and new constructed prairies in summer 2019. However, in July 2019, remnant prairies had a significantly higher hemipteran diversity than old and new constructed prairies. In August 2019, NMDS ordination showed that hemipteran morphospecies composition in new constructed prairies diverged from remnant and old constructed prairies. These results suggest that while the hemipteran community is largely similar across remnant and constructed prairies in this system early in the summer, the communities begin to diverge as the growing season progresses. Additionally, in June 2019, two morphospecies (Miridae: Lygus lineolaris and Psyllidae: Craspedolepta sp.) had a significant negative relationship with age of constructed prairie, and another morphospecies, Membracidae: Micrutalis calva was an indicator of remnant prairies. Finally, in July 2019, the family Membracidae increased in abundance as distance to agriculture increased. The relationships seen within these hemipteran families suggest that constructed prairies may need more maintenance over time to better replicate the conditions of remnant prairies, and that close proximity to agriculture may be limiting the potential of all prairies in this region.


Ecology, Entomology, Biology, Hemiptera, true bug, prairie, restoration, insect community, fragment size, tarnished plant bug, jumping plant lice, honeylocust treehopper

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