Form and Function

Grasshoppers may not be the easiest organisms to distinguish, but the Melanoplus devastator has many identifying characteristics that makes it easier for the average eye to recognize. It is closely related to the M. sanguinipes and as mentioned in the habitat section. They live in very different areas. Location has a significant effect on how the organism grows and reacts to the stimuli in its environment. It is a tell tale sign that the M. devastator is the larger of the two species (Orr et al. 1993).  One of the evolutionary reasons why they are larger is that the devastating grasshopper lives in a typically warmer climate. As the temperature increases across the different ranges of latitude the longer the grasshopper has time to complete embryonic development before hatching (Dingle and Mousseau 1993).Photo: Blake Suttle  The longer the embryo stays in the development stages the larger that the organisms gets. The Melanoplus devastator has a larger cercus and farcula than its closest relative and is a distinguishing feature in the wild and a good way to determine the sex of these grasshoppers is to look at the cerci and fracula (Orr et al. 1993).  The same article states that the cerci are elongated and slender and the farcula is long and extends in much greater lengths than the M sanguinipes. Multiple studies have also shown that even though the Melanoplus devastator has the larger cercus and farcula, the actual width of its body is smaller than that of the M. sanguinipes (Tatar et al. 1997).  
            The Melanoplus devastator has a pale green and tan body and the center of the abdomen is a pale greenish-yellow that mimics the surrounding environment that it lives in (Pfadt 1994).  This color coordination with thier body and the surrounding environment is to help protect themselves from potential predators by blending in with the use of camouflage. Males are usually the easiest to identify because they posses some of these distinguishing characteristics. These grasshoppers also have long wings that extended beyond the end of its body, making them a stealthy flyer (Pfadt 1994). The same article talked about the tegmen and how it is identifiable because of the black spots that cover its surface. Along with that color pattern they also have blue or sometimes red back hind legs, and the legs of the devastating grasshopper tend to be enlarged and give the elongated look to the grasshopper itself.
            Temperature, altitude, and latitude all play a role in the life of a Melanoplus devastator and the way in how it reacts to the environment and stimuli in the environment (Roff and Mousseau 2005). These interactions led eventually to the evolutionary adaptions in these animals to their habitat, like their coloration, the way their body’s move and the overall shape of the body and limbs. These differences can also help humans identify these organisms and help in trying to distinguish different species apart from one another. Essentially the form and function of an animal shows the relationship that the organism has with the environment and the impact that it has on reproduction, food, habitat, and everyday activities.

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