Great Basin Naturalist


Mechanisms important in maintaining substrate color matching in the grasshopper, Circotettix rabula, were studied near Aspen, Colorado, during the summers of 1968–70. Studies concentrated on populations on gray shale and red sandstone substrates. In both areas, collections revealed appreciable numbers of mismatched phenotypes among all age groups. The possibility of developmental homochromy was examined by observation of nymphs held in rearing boxes on matching and contrasting soil colors. The behavioral selection of matching substrate colors was tested by preference experiments. While not negating the possibility of these mechanisms, results suggested that they were of minor importance. Predation experiments, using Sceloporus lizards, demonstrated significant levels of selective predation on mismatched nymphs on both red and gray substrates. Experiments with bird and mammal predators, using adult grasshoppers, gave similar results. Release-recapture experiments with marked adults in areas of red and gray substrates showed markedly higher disappearance rates for mismatched animals. These results are interpreted to indicate that selective predation on mismatched animals is a major factor in maintaining substrate color matching in this species.