Seasonal Pattern In Population Dynamics And Host Plant Use Of Non‐Swarming Ruspolia Differens Serville (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae)
Malinga, Geoffrey M.
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The edible Ruspolia differens (Serville) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) is an important source of food in East Africa, but the seasonality of its population dynamics and host plant use are not fully understood. We studied seasonal patterns in the population density and relative frequency of developmental stages, sexes, colour morphs and host plants of the non-swarming R. differens at two study sites in central Uganda over 15 months. Linear mixed models were used to study how precipitation and Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) predict population density and relative frequency of developmental stages, sexes, colour morphs and host plants. The results showed that all developmental stages of non-swarming R. differens were found in the field throughout the year. The population densities of R. differens were high in wet seasons and low in dry seasons and were best predicted by the EVI of the previous month. The sex ratio of the non-swarming R. differens populations was female biased. The proportion of males and green colour morphs increased during and after the rainy season. The use of host plants fluctuated seasonally so that during the greener seasons individuals used the more preferred host Panicum maximum more frequently. Overall, our work indicates that R. differens has a seasonal dynamic so that vegetation greenness can be used to forecast non-swarming R. differens population densities. Our results also suggest that source populations for swarming individuals might have a local origin. This is important for the management of habitats for reproduction and conservation of viable populations of R. differens in East Africa.