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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: The effect of fire on spatial distributions of male mating aggregations in Gryllotalpa major Saussure (Orthoptera : Gryllotalpidae) at the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma: Evidence of a fire-dependent species
Year: 2007
Author(s): Howard, D. R., Hill, P. S. M.
Source Title: Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society
Source Type: Journal
pages: 51-64
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The prairie mole cricket (Gryllotalpa major Saussure) is a native of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem of the south central United States, Its populations have dwindled with the reduced availability of suitable grassland habitat. Populations are known to occupy relict prairie sites in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri. The Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in north central Oklahoma is the largest continuous tract of tallgrass prairie remaining (about 16,100 ha). The long-term management plan for this property includes the utilization of prescribed burns, bison grazing, cattle grazing and limited mowing to restore a functional tallgrass prairie landscape. Prairie mole cricket populations were surveyed at the site during the years 1993, 1994, 1998, and by our research team in 2005, using the male cricket’s acoustic call as a discrete presence indicator. Records from these surveys were integrated with prescribed burn maps to identify spatial distribution patterns of the calling aggregations at the preserve. These data were then analyzed to determine the randomness of spatial distributions with regard to pasture burn regimes. Results revealed a non-random distribution of prairie mole cricket calling sites, with advertising males found in higher numbers on sites that had been more recently burned. Analysis of soil temperature data taken from both burned and unburned prairie patches at White Oak Prairie in Oklahoma revealed no difference between the two treatments. The results of this study indicate that prairie mole cricket lek sites are somewhat transient within a broader prairie mosaic in which fire is a regular disturbance factor and tend to emerge on more recently burned patches. This information is being utilized in constructing habitat models and resource management plans for this preserve as well as other sites harboring Gryllotalpa major populations.