Microtylopteryx hebardi (Orthoptera: Acrididae) is possibly the most well studied neotropical grasshopper to date. M.hebardi is a flightless grasshopper which inhabits the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica, is primarily found in light gaps, is oligophagous and oviposites endophytically. This study was conducted at the La Selva Biological Station of the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica, and focuses on environmental factors that may influence Microtylopteryx hebardi presence and herbivory levels on Heliconia irrasa, including light availibility and soil type. Heliconia irrasa is an extremely common understory monocot that is frequently found in Microtylopteryx hebardi habitat, making it a suitable focus plant for this experiment. Samples were taken on transect lines in old growth forest between two soil types: alluvial and residual. These samples were then measured to determine percent herbivory on each plant and in each study site. The expectation is that herbivory levels will differ between soil types, likely due to variation in host plant quality. Preliminary results indicate that there is variation in herbivory between the two soil types. Other projects undertaken include determining diet preference of early (I-III) and late (IV-adult) instar nymphs, as well the presence of diet-switching in this species.
Valbracht, Lauren, " Microtylopteryx hebardi " (2009). URC Student Scholarship.
National Science Foundation - International Research Experience for Students Grant to Prof. Braker
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