The influence of fire on Illinois hill prairie Auchenorrhyncha (Insecta: Hemiptera) diversity and integrity

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Prescribed burning has been important in maintaining the structure of plant communities in the tallgrass prairie. However, implementation of these burn regimes often overlooks responses of other taxa, particularly arthropods. In this study, the timing and frequency of burns were examined on one of the most diverse and abundant groups of herbivorous insects, Auchenorrhyncha. These insects are ideal candidates in understanding the effects of fire on prairie arthropods because they are among the most numerous invertebrate herbivores in the prairie and they have ecological characteristics that confer a wide range of responses to prescribed burning. A total of 19 Illinois hill prairies were sampled along the Mississippi and Sangamon Rivers in the summer of 2006 using a modified leaf-blower vacuum. These sites exhibited a wide range of burn management, from unburned to recently burned, and having been burned multiple times. Species richness, Auchenorrhyncha Quality Index (with and without abundance data) and the mean coefficient of conservatism (with and without abundance data) were calculated for each site. Results suggest that unburned sites supported the greatest number of species and had higher Auchenorrhyncha Quality Index and mean coefficient of conservatism values than sites undergoing burn management. In order for land managers to maintain the prairie Auchenorrhyncha community and conserve vascular plants, this study recommends infrequent rotational burning with a minimum of 3-5 years; although additional studies are needed to determine the appropriate number of years between each burn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-445
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Auchenorrhyncha
  • Habitat quality index
  • Hill prairie
  • Prescribed burning
  • Tallgrass prairie

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Insect Science


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