Grasshopper Herbivory Affects Native Plant Diversity and Abundance in a Grassland Dominated by the Exotic GrassAgropyron cristatum
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The indirect effects of native generalist insect herbivores on interactions between exotic and native grassland plants have received limited attention. Crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) is the most common exotic rangeland grass in western North America. Crested wheatgrass communities are resistant to colonization by native plant species and have strong competitive effects on native species, imposing problems for the restoration of native grasslands. Grasshoppers are generalist herbivores that are often abundant in Crested wheatgrass-dominated sites in the northern Great Plains. We conducted two experiments in a Crested wheatgrass-dominated grassland in western North Dakota to test the hypothesis that grasshopper herbivory influences local Crested wheatgrass community composition by impeding native seedlings. Grasshopper herbivory negatively affected the species richness, abundance, and Shannon diversity of native plants in 3 of 4 years. Although additional research is needed to determine if grasshoppers actively select native plants, the effects of grasshopper herbivory may be an important consideration in the restoration of Crested wheatgrass areas. Our findings illustrate the importance of understanding the impact of native generalist invertebrate herbivores on the relationships between exotic and native plants. 2007 Society for Ecological Restoration International.
author list (cited authors)
Branson, D. H., & Sword, G. A.
complete list of authors
Branson, David H||Sword, Gregory A