Climate warming and drought effects on Melanoplus femurrubrum preferences in Solidago canadensis

Moriah Young, Mark Hammond, Phoebe Zarnetske​
Integrative Biology

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting and Investigators Field Tour (2021-09-23 to 2021-09-23 )

Climate stressors affect various plant traits which inherently affect plant palatability to insect herbivores. Biotic interactions, such as those between plants and herbivores, play a key role in how communities are structured and function, yet the influence of climate change on these interactions are still largely unknown. Using the Rain Exclusion eXperiment at the Kellogg Biological Station’s Long Term Ecological Research Site (KBS LTER), I tested the effects of climate warming and drought on Solidago canadensis palatability to Melanoplus femurrubrum (red-legged grasshoppers) by conducting insect preference trials. Grasshoppers were caught in the field and starved for 24 hours while S. canadensis leaves were harvested from ambient, warmed, drought, and warmed + drought treatments within the early successional community plots. Individual grasshoppers were placed in insect cages with a leaf from each treatment and allowed to feed for 20 hours. Surface leaf area was measured on individual leaves before and after feeding to calculate proportion of leaf eaten. Preliminary results show no significant differences in preferences between treatments indicating that the different treatments did not affect M. femurruburm preferences in S. canadensis.

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