Zayante band-winged grasshopper
|Zayante band-winged grasshopper|
Rentz & Weissman, 1984
Background and description
The Zayante band-winged grasshopper (Trimerotropis infantilis) is in the Order Orthoptera and Family Acrididae. It is known to be located only in Santa Cruz County, California within the Zayante sandhills, chiefly within a Maritime Coast Range Ponderosa Pine forest. The area has little vegetation and is primarily made up of sand and soil sediments. Since this habitat has been disrupted by humans, the Zayante band-winged grasshopper was listed as endangered in 1997. Conservation groups are currently trying to protect the areas where the Zayante band-winged grasshopper can be found (C. R. Glenn. 2006).
The male grasshoppers range from 13.7 to 17.2 millimeters in length, and females a little larger from 19.7 to 21.6 millimeters. (Donald J. Barry. 2000). They have forewings that are tan to gray with darker bands, pale yellow hind wings, with one faint thin band that is visible when they are in flight; its eyes are also banded. Its lower legs (tibiae) are blue and gray (Donald J. Barry 2000). They have good flying skills, being known to fly distances of three to seven feet. They produce a buzzing sound while flying in order to avoid predators. The Zyante band-winged grasshoppers are similar in appearance to many of the other species of grasshoppers; the only difference is that they are found specifically in a distinct range of habit in the sandhills. The grasshoppers have a flight season that lasts from late May to October, their peak activities being around July and August. (Donald J. Barry. 2000).
A shallow sea that once covered California's Central Valley emptied into the Pacific Ocean, and as the Santa Cruz Mountains formed, sand from the ocean floor rose and created the sandhills ecosystem that is present today. The sandhills supports a vast number of biodiversity. The habitat support plants and animals that are found nowhere else, but exclusively only in the Zayante sandhills ecosystem. It is one of the rarest ecosystems of California, and one of the rarest of the United States .The habitat itself is also in great danger, because of being subjected to habitat loss caused by human activities that include, urban, agriculture, and recreational developments, and sand mining.
The Zyante sandhills ecosystem is not only home to the endangered Zayante band-winged grasshopper, but it is home to many unique species of animals and plants, many of which are also on the endangered species list, including the Mount Hernon june beetle, Santa Cruz wallflower, Ben Lomond buckwheat, Bonny Doon silverleaf manzanita, Ben Lomond spineflower, and the Santa Cruz kangaroo rat (Donald J. Barry 2000).
Many of the habitat lies on private property making it difficult to preserve and protect the critically endangered Zyante sandhills. Without agreed effort by local business and private land owners to preserve the habitat, actually doing so will be proven to be difficult.
Santa Cruz County, the City of Scotts Valley, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and various organizations and individuals are continuing to move forward in hopes of preserving what is left of the sand hills habitat. Being able to really protect and preserve the Zayante sandhills will require action by many individuals, interest groups, and the government as well.
Factors driving the Zayante band-winged grasshoppers to extinction
There are currently many factors that are causing the endangerment of the Zayante band-winged grasshoppers, driving them to extinction. The biggest concerning threat to the species is habitat loss. The loss of habitat is caused by human activities that include, urban, agriculture, and recreational developments, and sand mining. These human activities and alterations of the environments have disrupted the grasshopper’s habitat. A large percentage of the Zayante sandhills are has been altered by human activities (USFWS 1997). Almost two thirds of the remaining surrounding habitat is unprotected and privately owned, being vulnerable to more habitat disruptions and destruction by humans in the near future (Glenn, C. R. 2006).
Some nonnative plant species are also a problem that is driving the Zayante band-winged grasshoppers towards extinction. Changes in the plant communities have reduced the quantity and quality of the available habitat to the grasshoppers. The encroaching forests has also appeared to get in the way, restricting the use of areas as habitat for the grasshoppers, resulting in declining population numbers of the species (Donald J. Barry 2000). Also, nonnative plant species are beating out the grasshoppers, entering sites that are occupied by the Zayante band-winged grasshopper. Two nonnative species that are affecting the grasshopper’s habitat are the Portuguese broom (Cystisus striatus) and sea fig (Carpobrotus chilensis) (Donald J. Barry 2000).
Due to the declining numbers in population, the Zayante band-winged grasshopper (Trimertropis infantilis) has been listed as an endangered species. The main threat to the species at the time is habitat lost, due to human activities and alterations to habitat. The introduction of non-native species of plants has also affected the species population. Over- collection and substances such as pesticides have also been seen as potential threats to the species (Donald J. Barry 2000).
Due to the declining numbers in population, the Zayante band-winged grasshopper has been listed as an endangered species. The main threat to the species at the moment is habitat lost, due to human activities and alterations. The introduction of non-native species of plants has also threatened the species population. Over- collection and pesticides have also been seen as potential threats to the species (Donald J. Barry 2000).
In order to prevent the continuing declination of the population of the Zayante band-winged grasshopper, and ultimately its extinction, management plans need to be proposed. There have been two HCPs (Habitat Conservation Plans) that have been discussed and put into play for an area where the grasshoppers inhabit by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (Joseph E. Doddridge 2001). Just those two will not do though, there is still more HCPs that are needed to be discussed. Plans should be discussed with the local quarry owners to reduce the loss of habitat through sand mining and urban expansion in the Zayante sandhills. There will also needs to be a discussion of HCP with the county of Santa Cruz to put off losing more of the grasshopper’s habitat from all of the mining and developments, since the Zayante band-winged grasshopper is known only to be located in Santa Cruz County. Critical habitats have been designated within the communities of Mount Hermon, Felton, Ben Lomond, Zayante, and Scotts Valley. By the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (10,560 acres) (Donald J. Barry 2000).
Another part that is important to the management is dealing with the invasive species of plants that are interfering with the grasshopper’s habitats. The species of plants that are non-native to the sand hills area are taking over the sand hills, taking precious space and areas of habitat from the grasshoppers. We need to somehow control these invasive species, or try to get rid of them. Research will need to be conducted focusing on habitat necessities for the long-term survival of the species. The Zayante band-winged grasshopper has such a unique and rare habitat, that we need to fully understand everything we can to be able to save this endangered species. Along with the research, educating the general public, private land owners, and especially the businesses and developers in the mining industry about the Zayante band-winged grasshopper and its unique habitat would be helpful in preserving the species. The people need to understand that the sandhills are not only special and rare to the Zayante band-winged grasshopper, but also to them.
In order to have these management plans become reality, the cooperation of many people will be needed. This would include all the people of Santa Cruz County, including the citizens, private land owners, and all of the businesses and developers who have an impact on the habitat of the Zayante sand hills.
- Rentz, D.C.F. 1996. Trimerotropis infantilis. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 10 August 2007.
La Femme Nikita.