Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands

Native grasslands are one of the most recognizable biomes in Canada, one of the most altered by human activity, and one of the most endangered. When the BSC project on Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands was first initiated in 1979, grasslands were also among the most incompletely studied biomes in terms of their animal biodiversity. Other than a few pest species, the arthropods of Canada’s grasslands had been virtually ignored, despite the crucial role they play in maintaining the ecological balance of these ecosystems. The primary goal of the Grasslands Project was to coordinate research on the diversity, ecology and impacts of the arthropods of Canadian grasslands. The project brought together specialists with expertise on different taxa, in different geographic regions, and with different research interests to participate in symposia at conferences and contribute to papers and monographs. The Biological Survey also sponsored a number of Bioblitzes (see Bioblitz page) in grasslands to fill in geographic and taxonomic gaps.


The primary output of the project was the four‐volume Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands Monograph series

1. Arthropods of Canadian grasslands. Vol 1: Ecology and Interactions in Grassland Habitats, edited by J.D. Shorthouse, and K.D. Floate and published in 2010. The focus of the chapters in this volume is the ecological relationships and interactions of arthropods in selected grassland habitats.

2. Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands. Vol 2: Inhabitants of a Changing Landscape, edited by K.D. Floate, and published in 2011. This volume provides general information on the arthropods of Canada’s prairie grassland habitats altered by human activity. Most chapters summarize the arthropod communities and their roles in different agro‐ecosystem or habitat types.

3. Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands. Vol 3: Biodiversity and Systematics Part 1, edited by H.A. Cárcamo and D.J. Giberson and published in 2014. This volume gives an overview of the biogeography of arthropods of Canadian grasslands, and provides a taxonomic summary, including checklists, of selected taxa of Myriapoda, Arachnida (mites and spiders), Collembola, and Insecta (lice, Plecoptera, Odonata, Orthoptera, Heteroptera, Leafhoppers, Aphids, and biting flies).

4. Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands. Vol 4: Biodiversity and Systematics part 2, edited by D.J. Giberson and H.A. Cárcamo and published in 2014. Part 2, continues the taxonomic review of grassland arthropods, covering selected Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies) and Hymenoptera (ants, ichneumons, braconids, and bees).

A summary and review of the project was also published in 2017, as part of a special issue of the Canadian Entomologist to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Biological Survey of Canada: Arthropods of Canadian grasslands: a retrospective of a 40‐year project of the Biological Survey of Canada, by Floate et al. 

Informal Conference: Arthropods of Grasslands: Current Status and Future Directions

This conference was held in conjunction with the Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada and Quebec in Montreal, QC, in December 2000. A summary of the papers presented at the informal conference was published in the Grasslands Newsletter, Volume 7, 2001.