by Amy Wojcicki article By Amy WoycickiiWASHINGTON — Prairie grassland ecosystems in the Great Plains are thriving thanks to prairie beetle and other insect pollinators, a new study shows.
Researchers found that prairie beetles can help support many of the grasslands they depend on, including prairie hay and seed, prairie and mixed-grass prairie, prairies with a mixed-species grass, and a mixed prairie ecosystem.
But their influence is being overshadowed by an ecosystem that is not only dominated by insect pollinator activity, but also by predators that may eat or eat away at some of the most important species of grasses.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 20 years of research that used surveys of the species and plant diversity in the areas they sampled.
They found that insects, plants and their interactions with predators in the prairies play a critical role in supporting grasslands.
The prairies in the study, conducted by researchers at The University of Texas, were studied by the National Park Service in Texas and the USDA Forest Service in Utah.
In the study area, the researchers found that the grasses that support the vast majority of the prairie species, including the hay, seed and hay and hay seed, were not being able to cope with the rapid growth of the beetles.
“There is no way that these species can grow to their full potential if they are not able to support these other species, especially in the late summer and fall,” said Amy Wohlforth, an assistant professor of biological sciences at The Ohio State University and co-author of the study.
“The prairie is a very complex ecosystem, with many diverse species that rely on each other for survival.
Insect pollinators are crucial to the survival of these species.
They are essential to the success of their ecosystems.
They provide essential nutrients to the grass and the insect species depend on them.”
Researchers found a correlation between the amount of pollinator populations in the grassland and the success that those species had in surviving the beetle season.
They also found that grasslands that are managed with a mixture of predator- and herbivore-rich grasses were more likely to survive beetle seasons.
“We saw that the more predator-dominated grasses are being replaced by predator-poor, insect-rich, herbivorous grasses,” said study co-lead author Rachel Wojcik.
“We found that there is no benefit in using insect pollination when you’re trying to maintain diversity in a system.”
Researchers say the study provides important insights into the role of insect pollinating in prairie ecosystems.
“Pollinators can help stabilize prairie habitats in the face of changing conditions,” Wojczak said.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about how the beetle is affecting our ecosystem, but there is a large amount of evidence to suggest that insect pollinations can help.”
Insect pollinators feed on insects and other plant parts that help them digest food, and their pollinating activity is critical to the health of many prairie plants.
They may also help with nutrient management, which is often done by using the herbicides that are used to kill the beetles that can harm many other grasses in the landscape.
The study also found evidence that prairies are experiencing a change in how they respond to insect pollinated plants.
In some areas, the number of insect-pollinated grasses increased by more than 60 percent between 1990 and 2010, which Wojcek says is a significant increase.
“It shows that there are significant changes in the composition of the ecosystem and the abundance of grass in the ecosystem,” she said.
“The change in prairies is a result of these changes, not only for the insect pollinant species, but for the abundance and diversity of grass species.
It indicates that the ecosystem is changing and needs to adapt.”
Wojcicks research is part of a larger effort by researchers to understand the role that insects play in grasslands, and the impacts of insect pollution on their health.
The findings of the new study are being published in the journal Science Advances.