, Volume 134, Issue 4, pp 587–595 | Cite as

Species richness and regional distribution of myrmecophilous beetles

  • Jussi PäivinenEmail author
  • Petri Ahlroth
  • Veijo Kaitala
  • Janne S. Kotiaho
  • Jukka Suhonen
  • Teija Virola
Community Ecology


Four major hypotheses have been put forward to explain local species richness of commensal or parasitic species. The resource distribution hypothesis predicts that regionally widespread host species are able to support higher local species richness of commensals or parasites. On the other hand, the resource size hypothesis predicts that larger hosts can support more species than smaller hosts, and comparably, the resource abundance hypothesis predicts that hosts that offer more resources are able to support more species. Finally, the resource concentration hypothesis predicts that hosts that occur in high-density patches support higher species richness. In this study, we tested the first three of the above hypotheses with myrmecophilous beetles and their host ants. In addition to species richness of myrmecophilous beetles, we also applied the above hypotheses to explain the distribution of the beetles. Our data are exclusively based on an extensive literature survey. Myrmecophilous beetles live in naturally fragmented environments composed of host ant colonies and they are exclusively dependent on ants. We found that the distribution of the host ants and the colony size of the host ants had a positive effect on both the species richness and the distribution of myrmecophilous beetles. In the same way, we found that myrmecophilous beetle species that are generalists, i.e. have more than one host ant species, and thus have more abundant resources, were more widely distributed than specialist species. Thus, we found support for the hypothesis that resource distribution, resource size and resource abundance have an effect on species richness and on the distribution of species.


Coleoptera Formicidae Resource abundance Resource distribution Resource size 



We are grateful to Jouni Laakso, Satu Paukku, Tero Toivanen and Katja Tynkkynen for improving the manuscript. Special thanks to Atte Komonen and Tomas Roslin for their valuable comments. We also thank Pekka Punttila, Michael Saaristo, Jouni Sorvari and Lotta Sundström for their comments concerning the ecology of ants. The study was financially supported by the Academy of Finland (to V.K. and to J.S.K.), the Entomological Society of Finland (to J.P.), Finnish Centre of Excellence Programme 2000–2005 (V.K. and J.S.; project 44878), the Finnish Cultural Foundation / Central Finland (to J.P.), the Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica (to J.P.) and Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation (to J.P.).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jussi Päivinen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Petri Ahlroth
    • 2
  • Veijo Kaitala
    • 1
  • Janne S. Kotiaho
    • 1
  • Jukka Suhonen
    • 1
  • Teija Virola
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Section of Natural HistoryJyväskylä University MuseumJyväskyläFinland

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