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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

David H Branson (Dave)

Research Entomologist


Dave Branson.

David H. Branson

Research Entomologist

Phone: 406.433.9406
Fax: 406.433.5038


 • EducationCurrent Research • Research Experience • Related Web Pages • Popular Press ArticlesPublications •  


Additional Pages: Research Projects,*Publications*

*Taken from the Agricultural Research Information System (ARIS) database.







B.S. Biology 1988 Bryan College, Dayton, TN
M.S. Biology 1992 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Ph. D. Ecology 2001 Utah State University, Logan, UT





Grasshoppers are an important native component of biodiversity in grassland ecosystems. However, periodic grasshopper outbreaks cause significant economic impact to the grazing industry, with grasshoppers consuming an estimated $1.25 billion per year in forage in Western U.S. rangelands. Grasshoppers are often the dominant rangeland herbivore, both in terms of biomass and vegetation consumed. Despite their economic and ecological importance, relatively little is known about the ecological processes that generate outbreaks. In addition, the direct, indirect, and interacting effects weather, host plants, predation and other biotic factors have on population fluctuations remain poorly understood. Although pesticides have been the primary tools used to combat outbreaks, increased public concern over non-target effects, combined with high costs of spraying, has made it important to develop ecologically-based sustainable grasshopper management tactics. Habitat management techniques, such as burning or livestock grazing on rangeland, hold promise as a method of manipulating the quality of habitat available for grasshoppers and/or their predators, thus reducing grasshopper outbreaks. (See Branson et al. 2006, BioScience [pdf available below] for a comprehensive overview) Grasshoppers also likely make positive contributions to grassland health, impact grazing system sustainability, influence the relationships between native and exotic plants, and serve as a food supply for wildlife. My research primarily focuses on:

  • Examining sustainable rangeland management techniques including livestock grazing management and rangeland fire that may reduce outbreaks while satisfying the needs of the grazing industry.

  • Defining biotic and climatic factors that influence the influence the likelihood of outbreaks to allow enhanced predictions of outbreak dynamics.

  • Clarifying how grasshoppers influence grassland health, grazing system sustainability, nutrient cycling and relationships between exotic and native plants.




I joined the USDA-Agricultural Research service as a Research Entomologist in 1998. Prior to joining ARS, I conducted my dissertation research at Utah State University on grasshopper ecology.






Grasshoppers: Their Biology, Identification and Management Website 

Homing In on Hopper Hordes (Agricultural Research Magazine, .PDF)

U.S. Rangeland Grasshopper Collection 

Grasshopper Research at NPARL 



Bye-Bye, Hoppers (BEEF Magazine)

Big Year For Grasshoppers (Ag Roundup, Oct. 5, 2011, Vol. 37: No. 33)



ARS: NEWS & EVENTS (Thislinkleads to Dr. Branson's query within ARS's news and events)





Please note: The most recent publications by this scientist may not yet be listed here. Please check the ARIS " Publications" page for possible new titles.

  • David H. Branson. 2017. Effects of Altered seasonality of precipitation on grass production and grasshopper performance in a northern mixed prairie. Environ Entomol. doi: 10.1093/ee/nvx053 (The original publication is available at Environmental Entomology) (Abstract)
  • David H. Branson. 2016. Drought Impacts on Competition in Phoetaliotes nebrascensis (Orthoptera Acrididae) in a Northern Mixed Grassland . Environ Entomol. 45 (2): 492-499. doi: 10.1093/ee/nvv225 (The original publication is available at Environmental Entomology) (Abstract)
  • Branson, D.H., Vermeire, L.T. 2016. Grasshopper responses to fire and postfire grazing in the northern Great Plains vary among species. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 169(2):144-149. doi: 10.1016/j.rama.2015.10.005. (The original publication is available at Science Direct)
  • Branson, D.H., Haferkamp, M.R. 2014. Insect herbivory and vertebrate grazing impact food limitation and grasshopper populations during a severe outbreak. Ecological Entomology. 39(1):371-381. (PDF)
  • Branson, D.H., Vermeire, L.T. 2013. Heat dosage and oviposition depth influence egg mortality of two common rangeland grasshopper species. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 66(1):110-113. (PDF; 220 KB)
  • Branson, D.H. 2011. Effects of nymph-overwintering grasshopper density on Ageneotettix deorum survival in a northern mixed grassland. Journal of Orthoptera Research. 20(2): 137-139. (PDF; 114 KB)
  • Branson, D.H. 2011. Relationships between plant diversity and grasshopper diversity and abundance in the Little Missouri National Grassland. Psyche. Special Issue 2011, 7 pgs.  (PDF; 520 KB
  • Branson, D.H. 2010. Density-Dependent Effects of an Early Season Insect Herbivore on a Later Developing Insect Herbivore. Environmental Entomology. 39(2): 346-350. (PDF; 87 KB)
  • Branson, D.H., Sword, G.A. 2010. An experimental analysis of grasshopper community responses to fire and livestock grazing in a northern mixed-grass prairie. Environmental Entomology. 39(5): 1441-1446. (PDF; 157 KB)
  • Branson, D.H., Sword, G.A. 2009. Grasshopper herbivory affects native plant diversity and abundance in a grassland dominated by the exotic grass Agropyron cristatum. Restoration Ecology. 17(1):89-96. (PDF; 236KB)
  • Branson, D.H. 2008. Influence of individual body size on reproductive traits in Melanopline grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Journal of Orthoptera Research. 17(2): 259-263. (PDF; 162KB)
  • Branson, D.H. 2008. Influence of a large late summer precipitation event on food limitation and grasshopper population dynamics in a northern Great Plains grassland. Environmental Entomology. 37(3):686-695. (PDF; 138KB)
  • Johnson, D.L., Branson, D.H. 2007. Grasshoppers and Crickets. In: Lamp, W., Lamp, Berberet, R., Higley, L., Baird, C. (eds.), Handbook of Forage and Rangeland Insects. Saint Paul, MN. APS Press. p. 67-76.
  • Branson, David H. and Vermeire, Lance T. 2007. Grasshopper egg mortality mediated by oviposition tactics and fire intensity. Ecological Entomology. 32:128-134.  (PDF; 116KB)
  • Branson, D.H., Joern, A., Sword, G.A. 2006. Sustainable Management of Insect Herbivores in Grassland Ecosystems: New Perspectives in Grasshopper Control. BioScience 56(9):743-755.  (PDF; 1005KB
  • Branson, D.H. 2006. Life-history responses of Ageneotettix deorum (Orthoptera: Acrididae) to host plant availability and population density. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. 79:146-155.  (PDF; 82KB)
  • Branson, D.H. 2005. Effects of fire on grasshopper assemblages in a northern mixed-grass prairie. Environmental Entomology. 34(5): 1109-1113.  (PDF; 77KB)

  • Branson, D.H. 2005. Direct and indirect effects of avian predation on grasshopper communities in northern mixed-grass prairie. Environmental Entomology. 34(5): 1114-1121. (PDF; 114KB)

  • Vermeire, L.T., Geary, T.W., Grings, E.E., Haferkamp, M.R., Heitschmidt, R.K., Macneil, M.D., Rinella, M.J., Alexander, L.J., Roberts, A.J., Waterman, R.C., Branson, D.H. 2005. 2005 Research Update. Research Update for Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory. 57 Pgs.

  • Branson, D.H., and Vermeire, L.T. 2005. Grasshopper Egg Mortality Explained by Laying Strategy and Fire Intensity. 2005. Research Update for Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory. P. 51-52. (PDF; 373KB)

  • Branson, D.H. 2004. Relative importance of nymphal and adult resource availability on reproductive allocation in Melanoplus sanguinipes (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Journal of Orthoptera Research 13: 239-245. (PDF; 522KB)

  • Branson, D.H., and Redlin, B. (eds.). 2004. Grasshoppers: Their Biology, Identification and Management. 2nd Edition. CD-Rom. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.

  • Branson, D.H., and Haferkamp, M.R. 2003. Effects of Sheep Grazing on Grasshopper Population Dynamics and Rangeland Vegetation. Research Update for Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory. P. 19-20. (PDF; 446KB)

  • Branson, D.H. 2003. Effects of a parasite mite on life-history variation in two grasshopper species. Evolutionary Ecology Research 5: 397-409. (PDF; 272KB)

  • Branson, D.H. 2003. Reproduction and survival in Melanoplus sanguinipes (Orthoptera: Acrididae) in response to resource availability and population density: the role of exploitative competition. The Canadian Entomologist 135: 415-426. (PDF; 242KB)

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