OU Study Finds Insects Crave Salt and Search Grasslands for the Limiting Nutrient
By The University of Oklahoma
NORMAN–A University of Oklahoma team from the Geographical Ecology Group has published a new study in the journal Ecology on the nutritional preferences of diverse insect communities from Texas to Minnesota. The OU team conducted 54 experiments in both grazed and ungrazed grasslands to determine the salt cravings of insects and the types of insects that crave salt. The OU team found that insects not only crave salt, but will search for it in their grassland habitats.
“Sodium is relatively unique among the elements in that it is required by all animals, but not used by plant life,” said Ellen Welti, lead author on the study and postdoctoral researcher in the OU Department of Biology. “Sodium is a critical nutrient for animal cell membrane functions while sodium is generally a stressor for plants. In other words, plants don’t need salt and plant eaters do.”