Arthropods are key components of grassland ecosystems. Though arthropod communities are often strongly influenced by plant communities, plants and arthropods may respond differently to disturbance. Studying plant responses alone may, therefore, not fully capture altered ecosystem dynamics; thus multi-trophic approaches are critical to fully understand ecosystem responses to disturbance. Energy development is a large-scale driver of disturbance in northern Great Plains rangelands, and recovery of arthropod communities following reclamation is not well understood. We sampled Orthoptera and spiders in western North Dakota, United States, in 2016. Samples were collected from 14 reclaimed oil well sites (‘reclaims’) 2–33 yr since reclamation, and native prairie at two distances (50 and 150 m) from reclaim edges. Overall Orthopteran and spider abundances on reclaims and native prairie did not differ; however, Orthopteran community composition and species abundances were distinct on reclaims versus native prairie, including increased abundances of Melanoplus femurrubrum (De Geer) (Orthoptera: Acrididae) (a noted crop pest) on reclaims. In contrast, NMS analyses revealed no differences in spider community composition between reclaims and native prairie, although abundances of one group (Salticidae) strongly decreased on reclaims. We present one of the first studies to investigate impacts of energy development and reclamation on arthropod communities. While reclamation efforts successfully recovered abundances and biomass of arthropod herbivores and predators, Orthopteran (but not spider) community composition on reclaims has not recovered to match that of intact prairie even 30 yr after reclamation.These findings suggest that energy development may have long-term or potentially irreversible impacts to rangeland arthropod communities.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2