We used naturally occurring stable isotopes to examine the feeding ecology of cicadas and other soil invertebrates in tallgrass prairie. Because cicadas are long-lived, xylem feeding insects, we hypothesized that their body tissues would closely reflect the isotopic signatures of their host plants. From collections made at the Konza Prairie Biological Station, we analyzed the whole body tissues of four common cicada species. Results from carbon analysis suggested that two species, Tibicen aurifera and Cicadetta calliope, fed exclusively on warm-season C4 grasses whereas Tibicen dorsata and Magicicada cassinii fed on C3 forbs, trees or shrubs. Results of the nitrogen analysis also revealed differences between the C4 feeding and C3 feeding cicadas. The grass-feeding species had d15N signatures of 0‰ whereas the C3 feeding cicadas had d15N values averaging almost 4‰. Interpretation of these differences is problematic, but it is notable that they are not due to differences in the trophic level of the organisms. We also examined the natural abundance stable isotopic signatures of earthworms from several habitats in the tallgrass prairie landscape. Results from these studies will also be presented and discussed.
Species 1: Homoptera Cicadidae Cicadetta calliope
Species 2: Homoptera Cicadidae Tibicen aurifera (gold dust cicada)
Species 3: Homoptera Cicadidae Magicicada cassinii (Periodical cicada)
Keywords: Carbon-13, Nitrogen-15
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