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Insect community responses to climate and weather across elevation gradients in the Sagebrush Steppe, eastern Oregon 2012 and 2013

June 29, 2021

In this study, the U.S. Geological Survey investigated the use of insects as bioindicators of climate change in sagebrush steppe shrublands and grasslands in the Upper Columbia Basin. The research was conducted in the Stinkingwater and Pueblo mountain ranges in eastern Oregon on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. We used a "space-for-time" sampling design that related insect communities to climate and weather along elevation gradients. We analyzed our insect dataset at three levels of organization: (1) whole-community, (2) feeding guilds (detritivores, herbivores, nectarivores, parasites, and predators) and (3) orders within nectarivores (i.e., pollinators). This dataset contains information about insects, vegetation, and weather in 2012 and 2013 at four sites that span elevation gradients in sagebrush steppe habitats in eastern Oregon. Each site contained nine sampling plots, arranged in groups of three at low, mid, and high elevations. Insects were collected using blue and yellow Japanese beetle flight traps and pitfall traps several times throughout the active season in 2012 and 2013. All insects were identified to the level of family and abundance. Abundances of families collected in pitfall traps, blue Japanese beetle flight traps, and yellow Japanese beetle flight traps are reported separately. Weather data was collected using iButton data loggers and weather stations. Hourly data was summarized into daily values which are reported here. When weather stations were not available, weather variables were estimated using data from nearby NOAA weather stations (see methods section of associated publication for details). Vegetation density data were collected using photo-grid analysis and point-quarter analysis. Vegetation data were collected at every sampling plot once per year.