We conducted a 2-year survey, using sweep sampling and family-level taxon identification, of the predatory and parasitoid insects on grassland sites in the Gallatin Valley of southwestern Montana. The 25 sites were divided into 4 habitat classes: 2 native habitat types (Stipa comata/Bouteloua gracilisand Festuca idahoensis/Agropyron spicatum) and 2 that had been reseeded with either crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) or smooth brome (Bromus inermis). Our major goal was to make quantitative comparisons of the abundance of insects among native and reseeded habitats. Of 51 families in 5 insect orders identified, 7 Hymenoptera (Encyrtidae, Braconidae, Ichneumonidae, Pteromalidae, Eulophidae, Scelionidae, and Torymidae), 3 Hemiptera (Lygaeidae, Nabidae, and Reduviidae), 1 Coleoptera (Coccinellidae), and 1 Diptera (Asilidae) comprised 90% of the natural enemies sampled. Ordination analyses provided no strong evidence that the 4 habitat classes contained distinct overall natural enemy communities. However, contiguous native and reseeded sites usually had relatively different overall natural enemy assemblages, suggesting that vegetation was often a more important correlate of community composition than was close spatial proximity of sites. Furthermore, several common families exhibited differential abundances across habitat classes in one or both years. For example, in 1989, Eulophidae, Pteromalidae, and Torymidae were more abundant on native Festuca/Agropyron sites, whereas Encyrtidae and Nabidae were more abundant on Festuca/Agropyron sites reseeded with Bromus inermis. Although analyses of insect assemblages classified to the family level provide somewhat limited information on functional ecological differences among habitats, they allow one to survey a broad array of taxa to identify focal groups for future conservation and land management studies.
O'Neill, Kevin M.; Kemp, William P.; Seibert, Catherine; Rolston, Marni G.; Bess, James A.; and Philips, T. Keith
"Natural enemy assemblages on native and reseeded grasslands in southwestern Montana: a family-level analysis,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 61
, Article 6.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol61/iss2/6