, Volume 106, Issue 3, pp 325–336

Local dynamics and dispersal in a structured population of the whirligig beetle Deneutus assimilis

  • Beate Nürnberger
Population Ecology


The study illustrates the ecological determinants and evolutionary consequences of dispersal in the pond-living water beetle Dineutus assimilis (Coleoptera: Gyrinidae). Over 2 years, local populatiopn dynamics were studied in 51 ponds within a 60-km2 study area. In most of the 31 occupied ponds, and even in large populations, abundances changed dramatically from one year to the next. Nine extinction and nine colonisation events were observed. These temporal patterns show no sign of spatial autocorrelation. Such a habitat distribution should favour high dispersal rates. Indeed, D. assimilis was found to be a very effective coloniser of newly available sites (mean propagule size: 23). A mark-recapture study showed that most dispersal occurred after diapause and over distances ranging from 100 m to at least 20 km. Yet despite frequent movement, the local variability in environmental conditions maintiins a large variance in average reproductive success per pond. Furthermore, immigration rates vary widely within a season. The apparent lack of correlation between these two sources of variation should greatly strengthen the role of drift in this system. A companion paper (Nürnberger and Harrison 1995) documents a non-random distribution of mitochondrial haplotypes due to recent population bottlenecks.

Key words

Dispersal Genetic drift Gyrinidae Metapopulation Population dynamics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beate Nürnberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology and SystematicsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Cell, Animal and Population BiologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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