Ranger Lends Name to Science

Tennessee Park Rangers Association News

Park Ranger Lends Name to Science

newslogoAll Wayne “Buddy” Ingram’s wife, Lisa, could say when he told her that a newly discovered species of grasshopper had been named after him, was, “Lord, have mercy.”
Ingram, 56, an interpretive specialist who has worked for 35 years at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, found out earlier this week that a grasshopper that only inhabits the gravel zone of cedar glades has been christened Melanoplus ingrami.

Asked how it feels to have a grasshopper named after him, Ingram answers, “I don’t know. It’s kinda one of those things you think won’t ever happen to you. It’s a real honor.”
JoVonn G. Hill, an entomologist who works with the Mississippi Entomological Museum, gave the insect its name and dubbed it in honor of Ingram for his amiable assistance.

“Buddy was just real helpful from the start at working the cedar glades, steering me to where the interesting spots were and sharing a lot of information about the area and the logistics of getting out and doing the work,” Hill said.

“He’s just a real nice guy and real helpful. Whenever you describe a species, you have a type specimen that sort of sets the definition of that species. You go back and look (to pinpoint a specific area), and so I selected a little glade right behind the Cedars of Lebanon visitor center so that they can point out the window and say, ‘There was a new species discovered right there and named after Buddy,’” said Hill, whose duties include documenting the grasshopper fauna of the Southeast and serving as curator of the museum’s Orthoptera collection.

MelanoplusingramiOrthopterans include grasshoppers, crickets and katydids.

“I’m not one that can identify insects, but they are topnotch,” said Ingram about museum’s research staff. “I told them where there might be good spots and where the good cedar glades are. They came up here thinking there might be some different species, and they found it. It’s a pretty grasshopper by the picture.”

“The cedar glades have a lot of plants found there and nowhere else in the world, and it’s looking like this grasshopper is also only found there,” Hill said. “I’ve done other work all over the Southeast and never seen anything like it before.”

The research associate with the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., spent seven days in 2009 at Cedars of Lebanon State Park and then another 25 to 30 days between spring and fall of 2010.

“I probably collected 500 species of insects and a total of 25 species of grasshopper from the cedar glades,” Hill said.

He describes the new find as “A small grayish-brown, short-winged grasshopper. It can’t fly at all. It appears to be restricted to the cedar glades of the central basin of Tennessee, right there near Nashville, a highly populated area.

“The cedar glade is a small habitat. You come in and destroy that one glade, and this species of grasshopper can’t get up and fly to the next glade down the road. That’s important in terms of conservation of protecting the glade,” the entomologist said.

“They live in pretty tough environment,” Ingram said, “where it gets colder and wetter in wintertime and hotter and drier in summertime.”

Only one other insect fauna study of the cedar glades had been conducted, that in 1929-1930.

Hill also found Melanoplus ingrami in cedar glades in Rutherford, Davidson and Marshall counties.

**Thank you to Ken Beck and the Wilson Post for allowing TPRA to post their article.

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