Patterns of movement of radioactive carabid beetles
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- Baars, M.A. Oecologia (1979) 44: 125. doi:10.1007/BF00346411
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Tracking of individual 192Ir-labeled ground beetles released in the field revealed that both the day-active and night-active species studied showed periods of small distances covered per day in random directions, alternating with periods of directed movement with large distances covered per day. This pattern occurred not only in the reproductive period but outside the breeding season as well in juvenile Pterostichus versicolor and spent Calathus melanocephalus. Although mean locomotory activity increased with temperature, great daily differences occurred between individuals, pointing to asynchronous behavior. In an unfavorable habitat directed movement occurred both more frequently and more extremely, sometimes resulting in escape to more favorable areas. Most of the radioactive beetles died within 7 weeks due to radiation effects, but independent field experiments and simulations showed that the recorded patterns were valid. Simulated individuals of P. versicolor living on 1 ha spread over 49 ha, whereas simulated C. melanocephalus covered only 9 ha after one activity season. Normal locomotory activities lead to both exchange of individuals between subpopulations and dispersal out of the habitat. The significance of these phenomena for population stability and for the survival of the species is discussed.