|Grasshopper fecundity responses to grazing and fire in a tallgrass prairie
|Year of Publication
|Laws, A, Joern, A
|Konza Prairie Biological Station, life-history, management, Orthoptera, reproduction
Grasshopper abundance and diversity vary with management practices such as fire and grazing. Understanding how grasshopper life history traits such as fecundity respond to management practices is key to predicting grasshopper population dynamics in heterogeneous environments. Landscape-level experimental fire and bison grazing treatments at the Konza Prairie Biological Station (Manhattan, KS) provide an opportunity to examine how management affects grasshopper fecundity. Here we report on grasshopper fecundity for nine common species at Konza Prairie. From 2007 to 2009, adult female grasshoppers were collected every 3 wk from eight watersheds that varied in fire and grazing treatments. Fecundity was measured by examining female reproductive tracts, which contain a record of past and current reproductive activity. Body size was a poor predictor of fecundity for all species. Despite large differences in vegetation structure and composition with management regime (grazing and fire interval), we observed little effect of management on grasshopper fecundity. Habitat characteristics (grasshopper density, vegetation biomass, and vegetation quality; measured in 2008 and 2009) were better predictors of past fecundity than current fecundity, with species-specific responses. Fecundity increased throughout the summer, indicating that grasshoppers were able to acquire sufficient nutritional resources for egg production in the early fall when vegetation quality is generally low. Because fecundity did not vary across management treatments, population stage structure may be more important for determining population level reproduction than management regime at Konza Prairie.