*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.
Homing In on Hopper Hordes (Agricultural Research Magazine, .PDF)
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.
Branson, D.H. 2005. Effects of fire on grasshopper assemblages in a northern mixed-grass prairie. Environmental Entomology. 34(5): 1109-1113. (PDF; 77KB)
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. 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)