Report from Team Grasshopper

From Arianne (posted by Jim):

We are all doing well here in Inner Mongolia. Team grasshopper completed our first busy session (setting up the treatment groups with early instar hoppers) and are now gearing up for assessing the grown hoppers starting next week. Shuguang has left us to spend a couple weeks in Beijing with his family and to work at the Institute. He’ll be returning with his son, Jon, and Jon’s son Michael around July 10th. Colleen has jumped right into the mix, quickly learning to ID the local hoppers, communicate clearly using a combination of English, Chinese, and charades, and has initiated a nightly basketball game that happens when it’s not raining. She completed the test run for her hopper feeding behavior experiment today. When the grass is dried, we’ll be able to assess the feasibility of our design. More on that experiment to come. In other exciting news, we collected our first field cage assessment data and found support for our prediction that population density influences hopper color. It is especially apparent in hoppers that we collected as green and placed in high density cages — many molted into black color morphs as 4th and 5th instars. We also found that the mortality rate was higher in fertilized plots than unfertilized plots. It will be interesting to get the rest of the data (gregarious behavior, flight endurance from flight mills, flight muscle mass, egg production, etc.) from the adults.

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