MORPHOLOGY OF THE FOSSORIAL FORELEGS OF GRYLLOTALPIDAE (ORTHOPTERA)
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Gryllotalpidae, or mole cricket, is a family of burrowing Orthoptera characterized by a pair of specially modified fossorial forelegs and a highly sclerotized pronotal thorax. The fossorial forelegs play an important role in the construction and maintenance of burrows that allow for food scavenging among grass roots, as well as the construction of subterranean mating horns, which are important for mate attraction. I propose that due to geographic distribution and morphological variation in the forelegs of the prothorax, selection of soil in Gryllotalpidae may drive evolution of species. Therefore, species may exhibit species-specific soil selection. I use geographic information system (GIS) to create maps based on collection location coordinates for as many different species as possible, and then use ArcMap 10.3© to create a worldwide overlay of soil types. I use scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) to investigate the degree of sclerotization and additional hardening caused by the deposition of elements in the fossorial forelegs of Neoscapteriscus borellii. I use histology to further investigate thickening of the cuticle, and any variation between the forelegs of the prothorax, mesothorax, and metathorax forelegs across select species.