|Title||Grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) select vegetation patches in local-scale responses to foliar nitrogen but not phosphorus in native grassland|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2011|
|Authors||Loaiza, V, Jonas, JL, Joern, A|
|Keywords||Andropogon gerardii, ecological stoichiometry, insect herbivory, Konza Prairie, N-P fertilization experiment, Solidago missouriensis|
Key elements such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are often limiting relative to the nutritional needs of herbivores that feed on them. While N often limits insect herbivores in natural terrestrial ecosystems, the effect of P is poorly studied in the field, even though compelling hypotheses from the ecological stoichiometry literature predict its importance. We evaluated small-scale spatial distributions of, and herbivory by, grasshoppers among neighboring plots that vary in foliar-N and -P in tallgrass prairie. Grasshopper densities were 67% greater in N-fertilized plots but detected no effect to grasshopper densities from P-fertilizer. Leaf damage to the dominant grass Andropogon gerardii was 32% greater in N-fertilized plots, but no response to foliar-P was detected. Herbivore damage to a common forb, goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis), was not strongly linked by fertilizer treatments, although there was increased leaf damage in N-fertilizer treatments when no P was applied (a significant N × P interaction). Under field conditions at local scales, we conclude that spatially heterogeneous distributions of grasshoppers are primarily affected by foliar-N in host plants with little evidence that P-levels contribute to the spatial patterns.