Emergence of periodical cicadas (Magicicada cassini ) from a Kansas riparian forest: densities, biomass and nitrogen flux

TitleEmergence of periodical cicadas (Magicicada cassini ) from a Kansas riparian forest: densities, biomass and nitrogen flux
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsWhiles, MR, Callaham, MA, Meyer, CK, Brock, BL, Charlton, RE
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Pagination176 -187
Accession NumberKNZ00793

The 1998 emergence of 17-y periodical cicadas (Magicicada cassini) on Konza Prairie Research Natural Area (KPRNA), Kansas, was quantified using emergence trap transects and counts of emergence holes. Emergence density, biomass (emergence production) and associated nitrogen flux were estimated for the entire 100 ha gallery forest of Kings Creek, the major drainage network on KPRNA. Emergence commenced on 22 May 1998 and lasted for 24 d, with 87% of the individuals emerging within the first 9 d. Males dominated early during the emergence, and the sex ratio for the entire population was estimated at 54:46 male:female. Average emergence abundance and biomass estimated from trap transects located in low areas where cicadas were most abundant were 152/m2 and 34.9 g ash-free dry mass (AFDM)/m2, respectively. Based on emergence hole counts, average density and biomass for the 59 ha of gallery forest where cicadas emerged were 27.2 individuals/m2 and 6.3 g AFDM/m2, and emergence hole densities >100/m2 were evident in low areas of the drainage. Emergence density generally decreased with increasing elevation in the catchment. Belowground to aboveground N flux associated with M. cassini emergence in high density areas was ∼3 g N/m2, and the average for the entire emergence area was 0.63 g N/m2. The total number of individuals that emerged from the Kings Creek riparian forest was estimated at 19.6 million, which represents 4.6 metric tons AFDM and ∼0.5 metric tons N. This linear, fragmented, gallery forest of the Flint Hills supports a high density of M. cassini, and an emergence event constitutes a significant belowground to aboveground flux of energy and nutrients. Thus, the periodical cicada may be an exception to the notion that insects generally do not represent important resource pools at the ecosystem level.