Submitted to: Metaleptea
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 5, 2005
Publication Date: August 14, 2005
Citation: Branson, D. H. 2005. Ecological research as a needed driver for preventative management of acridids. Metaleptea 25:27. Technical Abstract: Thirty-five years ago, Sir Boris Uvarov proposed that regulating acridid population dynamics through the deliberate modification of key ecological factors could lead to the gradual replacement of direct chemical control. However, due to the historical emphasis on outbreak suppression and intervention, relatively little is known about prevention of acridid outbreaks. In the long term, it is more desirable to use sustainable, ecologically based habitat management approaches that reduce the likelihood of large-scale grasshopper outbreaks rather than relying on chemical suppression. Habitat management practices such as burning or livestock grazing could be important tools in preventative grasshopper management. For example, foraging by livestock can directly reduce food availability for grasshoppers through competition or indirectly via changes in plant community composition. A limited study has shown that a rotational grazing practice resulted in significantly reduced grasshopper densities compared to a season-long grazing practice. In western North America, grassland fires appear also capable of having positive or negative effects on grasshopper population densities, with the timing and intensity of fires playing important roles. Differences between ecosystems in the response of grasshoppers to both fire and grazing indicates that underlying factors limiting grasshopper populations vary geographically, and application of cultural practices for grasshopper management must accounting for ecological conditions and responses. The Goal of sustainable management of grasshoppers on rangeland is within reach, but much more research on a wide range of habitat management practices and the underlying ecological processes across a range of ecosystem types is needed to further develop the technology.