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. Grasslands are 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 have been virtually ignored, despite the crucial role they play in maintaining the ecological balance of these ecosystems. The primary goal of the Grasslands Project is to coordinate research on the diversity, ecology and impacts of the arthropods of Canadian grasslands. The project involves a large number of specialists with expertise on different taxa, in different geographic regions, and with different research interests. 

Given the high diversity of grassland arthropod taxa, the wide range of ecological conditions, and the breadth of human impacts and ecological change in grasslands, the focus and products of the Grasslands Project will be equally diverse. As with any comprehensive biological study, the project will require basic research on the diversity and distribution of selected taxa of grassland arthropods. More comprehensive ecological studies on selected grassland habitats or regions are also feasible. Finally, grassland ecosystems provide an excellent opportunity to study the effects of human activity on the native flora and fauna, as well as the effects of arthropods on human activities.


Four major volumes dealing with different aspects of the diversity, ecology and interactions of Canadian grassland arthropods are planned.

The first major volume is Arthropods of Canadian grasslands: ecology and interactions in grassland habitats, edited by J.D. Shorthouse, and K.D. Floate. The focus of the chapters in this volume is the ecological relationships and interactions of arthropods in selected grassland habitats. This volume was published in 2010.

The second volume, Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands. Inhabitants of a Changing Landscape, provides general information on the arthropods of Canada's prairie grassland habitats altered by human activity. These activities, primarily agriculture and livestock production, have affected virtually all of Canada's grasslands to varying degrees. Most chapters summarize the arthropod communities in a given agro-ecosystem or habitat type, and describe the ecological roles of the most significant members in these communities.

Volume III, Biodiversity of Arthropods in Canadian Grasslands, will have a taxonomic focus and will include extensive species' checklists and faunistic analyses of select arthropod groups.

Focus site/Bioblitzes

Focus site field trips, or Bioblitzes as they became known, were envisaged as a series of field excursions to different prairie ecozones by entomologists with interests in prairie insects and related arthropods. The main, long-term goal of these gatherings was to generate collections of arthropods in selected prairie habitats to help to document the fauna. It was also hoped that participants would exchange and share information and observations about various taxonomic groups, field tactics and techniques. See the BioBlitz page for more information and reports from past BioBlitzes.

Prospectus: Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands

The prospectus for the Grasslands Project provides a framework for characterizing Canadian grassland habitats, a scientific rationale for the project, and an outline of potential products (books, conference symposia, electronic publications and databases) on the arthropods of Canadian grasslands. The full text of the prospectus (prepared in 2001) is available here.

Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands Newsletter

This newsletter was published from 1983 (No. 1) to 2005 (No. 11) to provide updates on research activities, news of interest and a forum for collaborators working on arthropods of Canadian grasslands. All back issues of the Grasslands Newsletter are available on line. After the printed version of the newsletter was discontinued an attempt was made to continue the newsletter online. Articles that might otherwise have appeared in the Arthropods of Canadian Grasslands Newsletter were posted on this web site (see Online articles).

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

Symposium on Grassland Arthropods, October 2002

A symposium entitled "Arthropods of Canadian grasslands: ecology and interactions in grassland habitats" was held October 8, 2002 at the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Canada in Winnipeg, MB. Abstracts are posted on this website.

References about prairie, tallgrass prairie, prairie arthropods and/or fire

Page updated on Jan 13, 2015