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Study Finds 2021 Cicada Emergence Changed Forest Food Webs

When Brood X cicadas emerged by the billions in 2021 after 17 years underground, dozens of species of birds pulled up a table at a bug buffet, helping to create a cascading series of ecological effects, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and other institutions.

In their publication featured this month on the cover of the journal Science, the team from UMD, including College Park Scholars Life Sciences program alum Grace Soltis, George Washington University and Georgetown University quantified the widespread changes the periodical cicada emergence had on the feeding patterns of birds and its downstream effects on forest food webs.

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