The emergence densities of annual cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) increase with sapling density and are greater near edges in a bottomland hardwood forest

Environ Entomol. 2014 Aug;43(4):859-67. doi: 10.1603/EN13338. Epub 2014 Jun 16.


The emergence densities of cicadas tend to be patchy at multiple spatial scales. While studies have identified habitat conditions related to these patchy distributions, their interpretation has been based primarily on periodical cicada species; habitat factors associated with densities of nonperiodical (i.e., annual) cicadas have remained under studied. This is despite their widespread distribution, diversity, and role as an important trophic resource for many other organisms, particularly within riparian areas. We studied habitat factors associated with the emergence densities of Tibicen spp. in a bottomland hardwood forest in east-central Arkansas. We found emergence densities were greatest in areas of high sapling densities and increased toward forest edges, although sapling density was a much stronger predictor of emergence density. Emergence densities also differed among sample areas within our study system. The habitat features predicting nymph densities were likely driven by a combination of factors affecting female selection of oviposition sites and the effects of habitat conditions on nymph survival. The differences in nymph densities between areas of our system were likely a result of the differential effects of flooding in these areas. Interestingly, our findings were similar to observations of periodical species, suggesting that both types of cicadas select similar habitat characteristics for ovipositing or are under comparable selective pressures during development. Our findings also imply that changes in habitat characteristics because of anthropogenically altered disturbance regimes (e.g., flooding) have the potential to negatively impact both periodical and annual species, which could have dramatic consequences for organisms at numerous trophic levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Distribution
  • Animals
  • Arkansas
  • Female
  • Forests*
  • Hemiptera / physiology*
  • Male
  • Plant Dispersal
  • Population Density
  • Seasons
  • Trees / physiology*