Matching Items (4)

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Locust outbreaks and migration in the Asian steppe: the influence of land management practices and host plant nutrient status

Description

Land management practices such as domestic animal grazing can alter plant communities via changes in soil structure and chemistry, species composition, and plant nutrient content. These changes can affect the

Land management practices such as domestic animal grazing can alter plant communities via changes in soil structure and chemistry, species composition, and plant nutrient content. These changes can affect the abundance and quality of plants consumed by insect herbivores with consequent changes in population dynamics. These population changes can translate to massive crop damage and pest control costs. My dissertation focused on Oedaleus asiaticus, a dominant Asian locust, and had three main objectives. First, I identified morphological, physiological, and behavioral characteristics of the migratory ("brown") and non-migratory ("green") phenotypes. I found that brown morphs had longer wings, larger thoraxes and higher metabolic rates compared to green morphs, suggesting that developmental plasticity allows greater migratory capacity in the brown morph of this locust. Second, I tested the hypothesis of a causal link between livestock overgrazing and an increase in migratory swarms of O. asiaticus. Current paradigms generally assume that increased plant nitrogen (N) should enhance herbivore performance by relieving protein-limitation, increasing herbivorous insect populations. I showed, in contrast to this scenario, that host plant N-enrichment and high protein artificial diets decreased the size and viability of O. asiaticus. Plant N content was lowest and locust abundance highest in heavily livestock-grazed fields where soils were N-depleted, likely due to enhanced erosion and leaching. These results suggest that heavy livestock grazing promotes outbreaks of this locust by reducing plant protein content. Third, I tested for the influence of dietary imbalance, in conjunction with high population density, on migratory plasticity. While high population density has clearly been shown to induce the migratory morph in several locusts, the effect of diet has been unclear. I found that locusts reared at high population density and fed unfertilized plants (i.e. high quality plants for O. asiaticus) had the greatest migratory capacity, and maintained a high percent of brown locusts. These results did not support the hypothesis that poor-quality resources increased expression of migratory phenotypes. This highlights a need to develop new theoretical frameworks for predicting how environmental factors will regulate migratory plasticity in locusts and perhaps other insects.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Spatial and temporal patterns in insectivorous bat activity in river-riparian landscapes

Description

River and riparian areas are important foraging habitat for insectivorous bats. Numerous studies have shown that aquatic insects provide an important trophic resource to terrestrial consumers, including bats, and

River and riparian areas are important foraging habitat for insectivorous bats. Numerous studies have shown that aquatic insects provide an important trophic resource to terrestrial consumers, including bats, and are key in regulating population size and species interactions in terrestrial food webs. Yet these studies have generally ignored how structural characteristics of the riverine landscape influence trophic resource availability or how terrestrial consumers respond to ensuing spatial and temporal patterns of trophic resources. Moreover, few studies have examined linkages between a stream's hydrologic regime and the timing and magnitude of aquatic insect availability. The main objective of my dissertation is to understand the causes of bat distributions in space and time. Specifically, I examine how trophic resource availability, structural components of riverine landscapes (channel confinement and riparian vegetation structure), and hydrologic regimes (flow permanence and timing of floods) mediate spatial and temporal patterns in bat activity. First, I show that river channel confinement determines bat activity along a river's longitudinal axis (directly above the river), while trophic resources appear to have stronger effects across a river's lateral (with distance from the river) axis. Second, I show that flow intermittency affects bat foraging activity indirectly via its effects on trophic resource availability. Seasonal river drying appears to have complex effects on bat foraging activity, initially causing imperfect tracking by consumers of localized concentrations of resources but later resulting in disappearance of both insects and bats after complete river drying. Third, I show that resource tracking by bats varies among streams with contrasting patterns of trophic resource availability and this variation appears to be in response to differences in the timing of aquatic insect emergence, duration and magnitude of emergence, and adult body size of emergent aquatic insects. Finally, I show that aquatic insects directly influence bat activity along a desert stream and that riparian vegetation composition affects bat activity, but only indirectly, via effects on aquatic insect availability. Overall, my results show river channel confinement, riparian vegetation structure, flow permanence, and the timing of floods influence spatial and temporal patterns in bat distributions; but these effects are indirect by influencing the ability of bats to track trophic resources in space and time.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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Daily eclosion patterns in nymphalid butterflies and their causes

Description

The molt from pupae to adult stage, called eclosion, occurs at specific times of the day in many holometabolous insects. These events are not well studied within Lepidopteran species. It

The molt from pupae to adult stage, called eclosion, occurs at specific times of the day in many holometabolous insects. These events are not well studied within Lepidopteran species. It was hypothesized that the eclosion timing in a species may be shaped by strong selective pressures, such as sexual selection in the context of male-male competition. The daily timing of eclosion was measured for six species of nymphalid butterflies. This was done by rearing individuals to pupation, placing the pupa in a greenhouse, and video recording eclosion to obtain the time of day at which it occurred. Four species exhibited clustered eclosion distributions that were concentrated to within 201 minutes after sunrise and were significantly different from one another. The other two species exhibited eclosion times that were non-clustered. There were no differences between sexes within species. The data support a relationship between the timing of eclosion each day and the timing of mating activities, but other as of yet undetermined selective pressures may also influence eclosion timing.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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A comparative study of dragonfly flight in variable oxygen atmospheres

Description

One hypothesis for the small size of insects relative to vertebrates, and the existence of giant fossil insects, is that atmospheric oxygen levels have constrained body sizes because oxygen delivery

One hypothesis for the small size of insects relative to vertebrates, and the existence of giant fossil insects, is that atmospheric oxygen levels have constrained body sizes because oxygen delivery would be unable to match the needs of metabolically active tissues in larger insects. This study tested whether oxygen delivery becomes more challenging for larger insects by measuring the oxygen-sensitivity of flight metabolic rates and behavior during hovering for 11 different species of dragonflies that range in mass by an order of magnitude. Animals were flown in 7 different oxygen concentrations ranging from 30% to 2.5% to assess the sensitivity of their behavior and flight metabolic rates to oxygen. I also assessed the oxygen-sensitivity of flight in low-density air (nitrogen replaced with helium), to increase the metabolic demands of hovering flight. Lowered atmosphere densities did induce higher metabolic rates. Flight behaviors but not flight metabolic rates were highly oxygen-sensitive. A significant interaction between oxygen and mass was found for total flight time, with larger dragonflies varying flight time more in response to atmospheric oxygen. This study provides some support for the hypothesis that larger insects are more challenged in oxygen delivery, as predicted by the oxygen limitation hypothesis for insect gigantism in the Paleozoic.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011