The ecological significance of tallgrass prairie arthropods

TitleThe ecological significance of tallgrass prairie arthropods
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsWhiles, MR, Charlton, RE
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
Pagination387 -412
Accession NumberKNZ001015

Tallgrass prairie (TGP) arthropods are diverse and abundant, yet they remain poorly documented and there is still much to be learned regarding their ecological roles. Fire and grazing interact in complex ways in TGP, resulting in a shifting mosaic of resource quantity and quality for primary consumers. Accordingly, the impacts of arthropod herbivores and detritivores are expected to vary spatially and temporally. Herbivores generally do not control primary production. Rather, groups such as grasshoppers have subtle effects on plant communities, and their most significant impacts are often on forbs, which represent the bulk of plant diversity in TGP. Belowground herbivores and detritivores influence root dynamics and rhizosphere nutrient cycling, and above- and belowground groups interact through plant responses and detrital pathways. Large-bodied taxa, such as cicadas, can also redistribute significant quantities of materials during adult emergences. Predatory arthropods are the least studied in terms of ecological significance, but there is evidence that top-down processes are important in TGP.