, Volume 127, Issue 2, pp 287-294
Date: 16 Feb 2001

The influence of matrix habitat on Aphthona flea beetle immigration to leafy spurge patches

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Variation in movement ability by insects among different non-habitat (matrix) types may have important implications for both metapopulation dynamics and weed biocontrol practices. We used a mark-recapture experiment to explore the effects of two different matrix habitats (grass vs shrub) on the ability of two species of Aphthona (Chrysomelidae: Coleoptera) flea beetle to immigrate to patches of the invasive weed, leafy spurge. Using generalized linear models, we compared effects of the matrix habitat types, species and sex on observed immigration probabilities. Our analyses demonstrated that one species (A. nigriscutis) had a much higher immigration probability when moving through a grass-dominated matrix than a shrub-dominated matrix whereas immigration probabilities for the second species (A. lacertosa) were similar in both matrix habitats but significantly lower overall than for A. nigriscutis. Furthermore, A. nigriscutis females were more likely to immigrate to spurge patches embedded in a grass matrix than in shrub, whereas the opposite occurred for males. Our results suggest that metapopulation dynamics may be strongly affected by the type(s) of matrix habitat present on a landscape. These effects also suggest that release strategies for weed biocontrol should be tailored according to the structure of the landscape into which releases are planned. In addition, even closely related species can have significantly different movement abilities which will also affect release strategies.

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