Kiersten P Angelos, Megan M Bollheimer, Madison J Dembinski, Amanda N Finke, Kaitlin M Gawkins, Shania E Hurst, Madeline R Norman, Ryan W Reihart, Mackenzie E Ryan



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Little is known about the relative importance of factors that structure insect communities in grassland ecosystems. Macronutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are known limiting factors in these ecosystems. Micronutrients, such as calcium, potassium, and sodium, may also be important limiting factors; however, few experiments have been done to provide evidence of their limiting effects. We are determining how micronutrients in the soil affect the insect communities in grasslands. We manipulated nitrogen and phosphorous, calcium, potassium, and sodium in every possible combination in the soil in a coastal tallgrass prairie in Texas. There were sixteen total treatments and each was replicated eight times. Insects were sampled by sweep netting and the relative abundance of insects, currently identified to order, was estimated. We also measured soil characteristics (pH, conductivity, soil moisture, the percentage of roots and root moisture). We that macronutrients actually had few effects on insect orders, but micronutrients had more, stronger effects on certain groups. Most interestingly, most orders were co-limited by nitrogen, phosphorus and sodium, a finding that has been hypothesized, but seldomly shown. These results stress a need to consider that more animals may be co-limited by combinations of macro- and micro-nutrients, and this is an extremely important implication in ecology that has been focused on just the role of macronutrients.

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Independent Research - Graduate

Primary Advisor

Chelse Prather, Misty K Thomas-Trout

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

Rewriting the textbooks: evidence of co-limitation by macro and micronutrients