Is hemipteran community structure in a coastal tallgrass prairie dependent on micronutrients?
Kiersten P Angelos, Emma E Pierpont, Ryan W Reihart
Insects play a major role in our ecosystems as pollinators, pest controls, decomposers, and a as food sources. Yet, there is limited knowledge on the factors that frame the structure of herbivore communities. The insect order, hemiptera, have piercing/sucking mouthparts, and are very important in grassland ecosystems as major herbivore species that affect nutrient cycling, primary productivity. They are also an important food source for other organisms. We con a large conducted a large fertilization experiment manipulating macronutrients (N,P) and micronutrients (Ca, K, and Na) in all combinations (16 total treatments) replicated 8 times (128 plots total) in large plots (30m x 30m) in a coastal tallgrass prairie in Texas. We sampled insects in each plot by sweepnetting plots, and also sampled plants and soil properties. We sorted insects to order, and are identifying all hemipterans to morphospecies. Because hemipterans were the abundant group in the samples, their responses drove community level responses of insects. Hemipterans were co-limited by nitrogen, phosphorous, and sodium. Their response may be driven by plant community responses to our treatments: their abundance was positively correlated with plant species richness. Future experiments will test to see if hemipterans are responding the micronutrients or the plant communities. These results demonstrate, for the first time, that this globally important insect group may be co-limited by a combination of macro- and micronutrients in this ecosystem. These findings important implications for the management of insect pest, and management for insect diversity.
Independent Research - Graduate
Chelse Prather, Misty K. Thomas-Trout
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium project
"Is hemipteran community structure in a coastal tallgrass prairie dependent on micronutrients?" (2017). Stander Symposium Projects. 897.