Katydids are recognized by scientists as indicators of habitat disturbance for an ecosystem. They tend to stay within small specific habitats and do not disperse widely. They are highly sensitive to changes in their habitat, particularly fragmentation. They are also important herbivores and food source for birds, bats and primates.
Three main methods were used to find katydids at the Konashen camps. Katydids were drawn to lights in the camp at night, specifically a mercury vapor lamp and an ultraviolet lamp. They were also detected by visual search at night and by sweeping the low-lying plants and vegetation with a net.
Visual searches were conducted every night between 8 PM and 2 AM, when the majority of katydid species are the most active. Sweeping for katydids during the day was feasible only in certain areas, like the grasslands near the Wai-Wai village and along river banks where the density of vegetation allowed scientists access with nets.
An ultrasound detector was used to locate and record species that have calls in the ultrasonic range, undetectable to the human ear. These recordings are important because they allow scientists to distinguish between different species of katydids that are very similar physically and to identify species that are too well camouflaged to find quickly in the thick forest.
For information about the specific equipment used, download the full report (PDF - 3.67 MB).
A rich variety of Katydids were found during the survey; 78 species, 58 of which were new for Guyana. These are species that were known elsewhere, but hadn’t been previously recorded in the country.
At least seven species were found that are likely new to science with several other unidentified species that may also prove to be new. The survey results increased the total number of known katydid species in Guyana to 101, a 130 percent increase from previous knowledge.
|A conehead katydid|
The Conocephalinae, or conehead katydids, include many species found both in open, grassy habitats and high in the forest canopy. Ten species of this family were recorded.
Seven species of the genus Eschatoceras are known, ranging from Ecuador to Suriname and Brazil to Bolivia. The katydids found at Konashen represent a potentially new eighth species of Eschatoceras. They are similar to E. bipunctatus but have different facial markings and genitalia structure.
Species of the genus Neoconocephalus are nearly always found in open grassy or marshy habitats. Very few species of this large genus are known to occur in forests, and even then only if there are openings or roads intersecting. The discovery of N. purpurascens in the continuous, pristine forests of Konashen adds a new and interesting element to the knowledge of this group of katydids’ biology.
Another potentially new species was found in the genus Phlugiola. Three species of this genus are known
|Lobster katydid (Panoploscelis specularis), one of |
the largest katydids of the Neotropics.
from Peru and Suriname, but all are brachypterous, or short-winged. The potentially new fourth species found is fully winged.
The Pseudophyllinae subfamily, or sylvan katydids, are found only in forested undisturbed habitats and many are confined to the upper layers of forest canopy. They do not come to lights, making it very difficult to locate them.
Fortunately, many species of this type have loud distinctive calls making it possible to document their presence by calls alone, similar to the technique used by ornithologists.
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Gnathoclita vorax was found at site 1 during the survey. It is one of the rare species where males are noticeably different from the females, called sexual dimorphism. In this case, the males have different mandibles and call from within bamboo stems (Gaudua sp.). Previous to this, only a Peruvian species was known to exhibit that behavior.
|A Peacock katydid.|
Additionally, three species of the Platyphyllum genus were found, all likely new to science. This genus has never been recorded in the countries of the Guyana Shield, and finding these individuals during the RAP survey hints that there are many more groups still undiscovered.
What it Means
More study is recommended for this area, as it is likely to yield even more species of insects that could be new to science. The species found all indicate that the forest is healthy and there are no known factors immediately threatening that status.
Some of the species have the potential to attract ecotourism, like the spectacular peacock katydid (Pterochroza ocellata) or the Morpho butterflies, as much as larger better-known animals. It is important to continue training the Wai-Wai parabiologists to recognize iconic and charismatic invertebrates, which are becoming popular targets of the ecotourism industry in other parts of the world.
IN PHOTOS: See a photo gallery of Konashen’s invertebrates.
| Ant Team | Dung Beetle Team | Katydid Team | Fish Team |
| Reptile and Amphibian Team | Bird Team | Mammal Team |