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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT OF GRASSHOPPERS AND OTHER INSECT PESTS IN THE NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS

Location: Pest Management Research Unit

Title: Sustainable management of insect herbivores in grassland ecosystems: New perspectives in grasshopper control

Authors
item Branson, David
item Joern, Anthony - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item Sword, Gregory

Submitted to: Bioscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 26, 2006
Publication Date: September 5, 2006
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/28892
Citation: Branson, D.H., Joern, A., Sword, G.A. 2006. Sustainable management of insect herbivores in grassland ecosystems: New perspectives in grasshopper control. Bioscience. 56:743-755.

Interpretive Summary: Grassland ecosystems provide critical habitat for millions of species and support extensive grazing economies on every continent except Antarctica. It is critically important to recognize that grasslands used to support grazing activities are renewable natural systems, requiring management practices that recognize and capitalize on appropriate natural feedbacks and constraints. Insect grazers such as grasshoppers, locusts and Mormon crickets are common native components of grassland ecosystems worldwide. At times they can be the most abundant and economically important pests in these ecosystems. Periodic outbreaks of grasshoppers in western US rangeland often elicit intervention in the form of chemical control. There are many reasons to believe that alternate preventive approaches to grasshopper management are possible, ones that maintain existing ecological feedbacks to sustain populations at economically non-threatening levels. Available information combined with conceptual frameworks suggests that new approaches for sustainable management of grasshopper outbreaks in US rangeland should be pursued.

Technical Abstract: Grasshoppers are insect herbivores commonly found in grassland ecosystems worldwide. They are important components of biodiversity, contribute significantly to grassland function, and periodically exhibit large-scale outbreaks. Under outbreak conditions, they can be important competitors with vertebrate grazers for rangeland forage. Because of their potential economic importance, periodic outbreaks of grasshoppers in western US rangeland often elicit intervention in the form of chemical control. However, there are many reasons to believe that alternate preventive approaches to grasshopper management are possible, ones that maintain existing ecological feedbacks to sustain populations at economically non-threatening levels. Available information combined with conceptual frameworks suggests that new approaches for sustainable management of grasshopper outbreaks in US rangeland should be pursued. Sustainable strategies to minimize the likelihood and extent of grasshopper outbreaks while limiting the need for chemical intervention is a rational goal for managing grasslands as renewable resources. It is a goal that is within reach.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014