Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 158-172, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.020

Diversity of grasshoppers (Caelifera) recorded on the banks of a Ramsar listed temporary salt lake in Algeria

Sarah MAHLOUL1, Abboud HARRAT1, Daniel PETIT2,*
1 Laboratoire de biosystématique et écologie des arthropodes, Université Mentouri Constantine I, route d'Ain-El-Bey, 25000 Constantine, Algeria; e-mails: sarah.mahloul@gmail.com, abboud52@yahoo.fr
2 UMR 1061 INRA, Université de Limoges, 123, avenue A. Thomas, 87060 Limoges cedex, France; e-mail: daniel.petit@unilim.fr

The chotts in Algeria are temporary salt lakes recognized as important wintering sites of water birds but neglected in terms of the diversity of the insects living on their banks. Around a chott in the wetland complex in the high plains near Constantine (eastern Algeria), more than half of the species of plants are annuals that dry out in summer, a situation that prompted us to sample the vegetation in spring over a period of two years. Three zones were identified based on an analysis of the vegetation and measurements of the salt content of the soils. Surveys carried out at monthly intervals over the course of a year revealed temporal and spatial variations in biodiversity and abundance of grasshoppers. The inner zone is colonized by halophilic plants and only one grasshopper species (Dericorys millierei) occurs there throughout the year. Two polyphagous species of Calliptamus, which can feed on halophilic plants migrate from adjacent areas into the inner zone in August to feed on the plants growing there. The other species of grasshoppers remain in outer zones as they are unable to feed on halophilic plants. The greatest abundance of grasshoppers from August to winter was recorded in the inner zone and in spring and early summer in the outer zones. The dependence of D. millierei on bushes of Amaranthaceae and its moderate flight ability, features of the family Dericorytidae, limit this species ability to colonize neighbouring chotts.

Keywords: Caelifera, grasshopper, Dericorys, Calliptamus, temporary salt lake, halophytes, food sources, dispersal, Algeria

Received: July 18, 2015; Accepted: November 27, 2015; Published online: February 5, 2016

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