The Cicadas Are Coming, the Cicadas Are Coming: Research on "Brood X" Cicadas Focus of Briefing
Cicada experts funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will discuss the biology, economic impact, geographic distribution and genetics of the Brood X periodical cicadas emerging from the ground this May. These large, winged insects appear by the trillions across the northeast and mid-west every 17 years.
Brood X cicadas have developed in underground holes for the past 17 years by sucking on tree roots. The insects will surface in areas where susceptible trees were present during the last infestation, which occurred in 1987. Scientists predict that Indiana alone will be infested with millions of the bugs. A particularly heavy emergence will also occur in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Among other topics, the scientists will discuss how human alteration of forests affects cicadas. Cicadas are drawn to the forest edge; because eastern forests have grown since the last emergence, this year's cicadas will likely emerge deeper in the forest and move to the edge. Tracking the cicadas' relocation is among the researchers' topics. They will also present the latest findings on the effect of cicada root parasitism on red maples; how periodical cicadas interact with the forest ecosystem as a whole; and biogeographic and behavioral research that led to the discovery of a new cicada species with a 13-year life cycle, which appears to have originated from a 17-year life cycle species.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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