Singing in the suburbs: point count surveys efficiently reveal habitat associations for nocturnal Orthoptera across an urban-to-rural gradient

Darin J. McNeil, Christina M. Grozinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Abstract: As evidence for global insect population declines continues to amass, several studies have indicated that Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids) are among the most threatened insect groups. Understanding Orthoptera populations across large spatial extents requires efficient survey protocols, however, many previously established methods are expensive and/or labor-intensive. One survey method widely employed in wildlife biology, the aural point count, may work well for crickets and katydids (suborder: Ensifera) because males produce conspicuous, species-specific mating calls. We conducted repeated point count surveys across an urban-to-rural gradient in central Pennsylvania. Occupancy analyses of ten focal species indicated that, although detection probability rates varied by species from 0.43 to 0.98, detection rates compounded over five visits such that all focal species achieved cumulative > 0.90. Factors associated with site occupancy varied among species with some positively associated with urbanization (e.g., Greater Anglewing, Microcentrum rhombifolium), some negatively associated with urbanization (e.g., Sword-bearing Conehead, Neoconocephalus ensiger), and others exhibiting constant occupancy across a habitat gradient (e.g., Common True Katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia). Our community-level analysis revealed that different species’ habitat associations interacted such that intermediate levels of urbanization (i.e., suburbs) hosted the highest number of species. Implications for insect conservation: Ultimately, our analyses clearly support the concept that aural point counts paired with static occupancy modeling can serve as an important tool for monitoring night-singing Orthoptera populations. Applications of point count surveys by both researchers and citizen scientists may improve our understanding Ensifera populations and help in the global conservation of these threatened insects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1043
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Crickets
  • Detection probability
  • Habitat
  • Katydids
  • Occupancy analysis
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Insect Science


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