Apache cicada (Homoptera: Cicadidae: Diceroprocta apache Davis) densities were estimated to be 10 individuals/m2 within a closed-canopy stand of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and Goodding willow (Salix gooddingii) in a revegetated site adjacent to the Colorado River near Parker, Arizona. Coupled with data drawn from the literature, I estimate that up to 1.3 cm (13 1/m2) of water may be added to the upper soil layers annually through the feeding activities of cicada nymphs. This is equivalent to 12% of the annual precipitation received in the study area. Apache cicadas may have significant effects on ecosystem functioning via effects on water transport and thus act as a critical-link species in this southwest desert riverine ecosystem. Cicadas emerged later within the cottonwood-willow stand than in relatively open saltcedar-mesquite stands; this difference in temporal dynamics would affect their availability to several insectivorous bird species and may help explain the birds' recent declines. Resource managers in this region should be sensitive to the multiple and strong effects that Apache cicadas may have on ecosystem structure and functioning.
Additional publication details
Are cicadas (Diceroprocta apache) both a "keystone" and a "critical-link" species in lower Colorado River riparian communities?