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Species Schistocerca shoshone - Green Bird Grasshopper

Green Bird Grasshopper - Schistocerca shoshone - male - female Who said nuclear testing had no effect? ;o) - Schistocerca Shoshone? - Schistocerca shoshone - female Large Green Grasshopper - Schistocerca shoshone Schistocerca shoshone Scistocerca shoshone - Schistocerca shoshone - female Schistocerca shoshone - male Schistocerca shoshone from Big Bend, TX - Schistocerca shoshone - male - female Schistocerca shoshone - female
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Caelifera (Grasshoppers)
Family Acrididae (Short-horned Grasshoppers)
Subfamily Cyrtacanthacridinae (Bird Grasshoppers)
Genus Schistocerca (Bird Grasshoppers)
Species shoshone (Green Bird Grasshopper)
Other Common Names
Green Valley Grasshopper
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Schistocerca shoshone Thomas, 1873 stat. rev.
Acridium shoshone Thomas, 1873
Schistocerca shoshone (Thomas) Henderson, 1942
Schistocerca alutacea shoshone (Thomas) Dirsh, 1974
Explanation of Names
After Dirsh's publication in 1974, treated as a subspecies Schistocerca alutacea shoshone, but originaly described at species rank by Thomas in 1873 and treated again at species level by more recent authors. [see Internet References section below]
Identification
Nearly solid green in color, usually rather pale and dull; eyes usually blue (when alive); usually lacking yellowish dots on thorax, yellowish spot on side of thorax, and pale mid-dorsal stripe (stripe may be faintly developed on pronotum and head); mostly lacking black markings, except on "knee" of hind femur and sometimes sutures and sulci on sides and tops of pronotum and thorax (faint bluish markings may sometimes occur where other blackish markings usually occur on related species); male fore femur and middle femur inflated.
Range
Trans-Pecos Texas, New Mexico, sw. Utah, s. Nevada, s. California, south into northern Mexico.
Habitat
Mostly streamside (riparian) habitats in desert regions; also frequently found in tall lush vegetation in agricultural and residential areas.
Season
June or July into late autumn or early winter.
Food
prefers various woody plants; adults stay on an individual host plant for most of the day, remaining motionless when not feeding
Life Cycle
one generation per year; eggs hatch over an extended period in spring and early summer; late instar nymphs and adults are seen by June, and these gradually die through the late summer, some often lasting into November or even December.
Remarks
The "alutacea" group of the genus Schistocerca is still a bit of a mess. The taxonomy is confused, and each author to treat them has done it somewhat differently. It is pretty clearly resolved now which insects belong to which type, but there are still some debated and unresolved issues as to which insects belong to the same species and which are distinct enough to be called different species. This means that the same insect might be called by two or three different names, even in current literature. S. shoshone is very closely related to S. lineata, and it's separation as a distinct species is difficult to support based on structure alone. However, the two remain distinct when they occur in the same area, behaving as biologically different entities (though hybridization experiments in captivity apparently produce fertile offspring).
The work of Song is mostly followed here, but his treatment of green species found west of the Great Plains doesn't seem to quite fit with wild populations as found in nature. Song's treatment splits like-looking striped green specimens between Schisocerca lineata and Schistocerca shoshone based on the presence or absence of dark dots on the abdomen. The insects don't seem to notice the dots, and wild adults will quite happily pair up and mate with one another regardless of whether the dots are there or not. Most striped populations seem to include both conditions. Song didn't give any other character to separate what he called S. lineata and S. shoshone west from the Rockies.
Here they are divided by coloration under either Schistocerca lineata (mostly darker green, darker above than on sides, [?always?] with a contrasting pale dorsal stripe and with dark eyes) or Schistocerca shoshone (mostly fairly even light green, rarely with any indication of a pale dorsal stripe, and lighter blue eyes). This seems to relate best to real live populations in the field, which behave as distinct species when they occur in the same place. It is much less confusing too.
The same names are used here as used by Song, but the characters that actually seem to relate best to real populations are used. This is basically the same as traditional treatments that were followed before Dirsh lumped them all together under S. alutacea, and before Song's rearrangement. The difference is that many authors then used the name "S. venusta" for the striped ones, and kept them distinct (usually with reservations) from both S. shoshone and S. lineata.
Striped ones may indeed be a regional variant of S. lineata, but it is also possible that they are a distinct species that should be called S. venusta. It is clear in the field that they behave as a distinct species from the unstriped S. shoshone, but they replace S. lineata to the west, seem to intergrade with it in Colorado and New Mexico, and that relationship is less clear.

There is yet another problem involving both name S. shoshone and S. venusta. The neotype* specimen designated by Hebard (1927) for S. shoshone was from Logan, Utah, but seems to be lost. Almost certainly this was not the same as the unstriped insect that was originally described as S. shoshone, since it is apparently only the striped type ("venusta") that occurs in the Logan area. The original description of the species S. shoshone clearly describes an unstriped insect that came from further south in southeastern Nevada and southwestern Utah, and one that matches the one traditionally called by the same name in southwestern desert regions.
The name S. venusta was in turn given to striped insects from Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, Texas, and California. Rehn and Hebard (1912) designated a presumed lectotype specimen (one supposedly used by the original author when describing the species) from Indio, California. However, this lectotype appears in published photos to be of the wrong type as well. If it is an unstriped specimen of S. shoshone, it was designated in opposition to the type of insect clearly described in the original description. Individual type specimens chosen and designated by Rehn and Hebard for both names were likely the opposite "species" from those clearly and unambiguously described by the original authors in their origianal written descriptions. This needs double checked and fixed.
[[The more I dig, the messier it gets. David J. Ferguson 1-14-09]]

*neotype is a specimen designated as the the "type" representative to define the name of a species when no original type specimen is known. Basically it is a "replacement" if the original didn't ever exist, or if it has disappeared. It is not unusual for a mistake to be made in designating a neotype, especially when the original description and "protocals" of the original publication are not followed to the letter. If the neotype is from from a region different from where the original name was described, it can and often does lead to mistakes. Sometimes the second author simply misinterprets what the name really means, and "goofs" (underscoring the need for a type specimen to be designated by the original author in the first place!). However, sometimes the second author, for one reason or another, purposely designates a specimen that doesn't quite fit. In this case the neotype of S. venusta was clearly designated from a region outside of that defined in the original description, for an insect that certainly did not fit the original description. This can be fixed by a later author, but in this case has not yet been resolved. In this case, if the neotype of S. venusta is truly lost; maybe there needs to be a "neo-neotype"?
Internet References
Original description of S. shoshone in Proceedings of The Academy of Natural Sciences (Part I I -- Mar., Apr., May, June, 1873). See p. 296 Also, here. And, related comments here, p. 895 and plate 43(2).
Original description of Schistocerca venusta and S. obiquata in Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1846). See p. 467 & 470.
photos of types of Schistocerca venusta and obliquata (schistocerca.org)
distribution map (schistocerca.org). Combines distributions of S. shoshone and S. lineata "venusta".
revision of the Alutacea Group of Genus Schistocerca; PDF doc - elevating S. alutacea shosone and other former subspecies to species rank (Hojun Song. 2004. Ohio State University)
similarities among related species in the Alutacea group (schistocerca.org)
common name reference [Green Bird Grasshopper] (Comparative Toxicogenomics Database)