Microclimatic variation within sleeve cages used in ecological studies

Lori A. Nelson, Lynne K. Rieske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Sleeve cages for enclosing or excluding arthropods are essential components of field studies evaluating trophic interactions. Microclimatic variation in sleeve cages was evaluated to characterize its potential effects on subsequent long-term experiments. Two sleeve cage materials, polyester and nylon, and two cage sizes, 400 and 6000 cm, were tested on eastern hemlock, Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière. Temperature and relative humidity inside and outside cages, and the cost and durability of the cage materials, were compared. Long-term effects of the sleeve cages were observed by measuring new growth on T. canadensis branches. The ultimate goal was to identify a material that minimizes bag-induced microclimatic variation. Bagged branches whose microclimates mimic those of surrounding unbagged branches should have minimal effects on plant growth and may prove ideal venues for assessing herbivore and predator behavior under natural conditions. No differences were found in temperature or humidity between caging materials. Small cages had higher average temperatures than large cages, especially in the winter, but this difference was confounded by the fact that small cages were positioned higher in trees than large cages. Differences in plant growth were detected. Eastern hemlock branches enclosed within polyester cages produced fewer new growth tips than uncaged controls. Both polyester and nylon cages reduced the length of new shoot growth relative to uncaged branches. In spite of higher costs, nylon cages were superior to polyester with respect to durability and ease of handling.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA165
JournalJournal of Insect Science
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author.


  • Tsuga canadensis
  • cage
  • enclosure
  • hemlock
  • herbivore exclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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