The importance of monkey beetle (Scarabaeidae: Hopliini) pollination for Aizoaceae and Asteraceae in grazed and ungrazed areas at Paulshoek, Succulent Karoo, South Africa

Original Paper


The relative importance of monkey beetles (Hopliini, Scarabeidae) as pollinators of Asteraceae and Aizoaceae in the Succulent Karoo as well as the influence of livestock grazing on their abundance and diversity was investigated. Hopliine beetles proved to be the, or among the, most abundant flower visitors of 12 investigated plant species. However, during single flower observations at three Aizoaceae species, bees (Apoidea), bee flies (Bombyliidae) and pollen wasps (Masaridae) were the most frequent flower visitors. However, monkey beetles carried the highest Asteraceae and Aizoaceae pollen loads, and are therefore considered to play a vital role in the pollination of these two families. Abundance, species richness and diversity of Hopliini did not appear to be heavily affected by livestock grazing. Annual variation in the composition of monkey beetle populations was more dramatic. Still, some species showed higher abundances on heavily grazed rangeland while others only occurred under low grazing pressure. It is presumed that changes in the composition of the vegetation, especially the observed decrease of perennial plants in favour of annuals and geophytes (Todd and Hoffman 1999) could in turn affect the composition of monkey beetle assemblages.


Hopliini Beetle pollination Pollen load Livestock grazing Colour preferences 



This study is embedded in BIOTA Africa ( which is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bmbf 01LC0024). Carolin Mayer would like to thank Professors N. Jürgens (University of Hamburg) and M.T. Hoffman (University of Cape Town) for supervision. Northern Cape Nature Conservation Services provided research permits. Special thanks go to Jonathan Colville (University of Cape Town) for helping with the identification of monkey beetles. A University of Cape Town Research Grant awarded to M. Picker provided travel costs. G. Soka acknowledges the financial support kindly provided by the Tropical Biology Association (TBA), as well as supervision by M. Picker and C. Mayer.


  1. Allsopp N (1999) Effects of grazing and cultivation on soil patterns and processes in the Paulshoek area of Namaqualand. Plant Ecol 142:179–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armstrong JE, Irvine AK (1990) Functions of staminodia in the beetle-pollinated flowers of Eupomatia laurina. Biotropica 22(4):429–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Colville J, Picker MD, Cowling RM (2002) Species turnover of monkey beetles (Scarabeidae: Hopliini) along environmental and disturbance gradients in the Namaqualand region of the succulent Karoo, South Africa. Biodivers Conserv 11:243–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cowling RM, Hilton-Taylor C (1999) Plant biogeography, endemism and diversity. In: Dean WJD, Milton SJ (eds) The Karoo—ecological patterns and processes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 42–56Google Scholar
  5. Dafni A (1992) Pollination ecology—a practical approach. Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  6. Davis SD, Heywood VH (1994) Centres of plant diversity: a guide and strategy for their conservation. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Dean WRJ, Milton SJ, Du Plessis MA, Siegfried WR (1995) Dryland degradation: symptoms, stages, and hypothetical cures. In: Proceedings: Wildland Shrub and Arid Land Restoration Symposium, 1993 October 19–21, Las Vegas, NevadaGoogle Scholar
  8. Donaldson J, Nanni I, Zachariades C, Kemper J (2002) Effects of habitat fragmentation on pollinator diversity and plant reproductive success in renosterveld shrublands of South Africa. Conserv Biol 16(5):1267–1276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gemmill B, Rodger JG, Balkwill K (2004) African pollination studies: where are the gaps? Insect Sci Appl 24(1):5–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gess FW, Gess SK (1993) Effects of increasing land utilization on species representation and diversity of aculeate wasps and bees in the semi-arid areas of Southern Africa. In: Lasalle J, Gauld ID (eds) Hymenoptera and biodiversity. CAB International, Wallingford, UK, pp 83–113Google Scholar
  11. Goldblatt P, Bernhardt P, Manning JC (1998) Pollination of petaloid geophytes by monkey beetles (Scarabaeidae: Rutelinae: Hopliini) in Southern Africa. Ann Missouri Bot Garden 85(2):215–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hall JL, Hawes C (1991) Electron microscopy of plant cells. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Ihlenfeldt HD (1994) Diversification in an arid world: the Mesembryanthemaceae. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 25:521–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnson SD, Midgley JJ (2001) Pollination by monkey beetles (Scarabeidae: Hopliini): do color and dark centres of flowers influence alighting behavior? Environ Entomol 30(5):861–868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kearns CA, Inouye DW, Waser NM (1998) Endangered mutualisms: the conservation of plant–pollinator interactions. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 29:83–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kevan PG (1978) Floral coloration, its colorimetric analysis and significance in anthecology. In: Richards AJ (ed) The pollination of flowers by insects. Academic Press, London, pp 51–78Google Scholar
  17. Kirk WDJ (1984) Ecologically selective coloured traps. Ecol Entomol 9:35–41Google Scholar
  18. Leong JM, Thorp RW (1999) Colour-coded sampling: the pan trap colour preferences of oligolectic and nonoligolectic bees associated with a vernal pool plant. Ecol Entomol 24(3):329–335Google Scholar
  19. Macgillivray DB (1987) A centrifuging method for removing of insect pollen loads. J Entomol Soc South Africa 50(2):522–523Google Scholar
  20. Mayer C (2004) Pollination services under different grazing intensities. Insect Sci Appl 24(1):95–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mayer C (2005) Does grazing influence bee diversity? In: Huber BA, Sinclair BJ, Lampe KH (eds) African biodiversity: molecules, organisms, ecosystems. Springer Verlag, Musem König, Bonn, pp 173–180Google Scholar
  22. Milton SJ, Dean WRJ (1992) An underground index of rangeland degradation: cicadas in arid southern Africa. Oecologia 91:288–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moore PD, Webb JA (1978) An illustrated guide to pollen analysis. Hodder and Stoughton, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Nash MS, Bradford DF, Franson SE, Neale AC, Whitford WG, Heggem DT (2004) Livestock grazing effects on ant communities in the eastern Mojave Desert, USA. J Ecol Indic 4(3):199–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pérez-Mellado V, Ortega F, Martin-Garcia S, Perera A, Cortazar G (2000) Pollen load and transport by the insular lizard, Podarcis lilfordi (Squamata, Lacertidae) in coastal islets of Menorca (Balearic islands, Spain). Isr J Zool 46:193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Picker MD, Midgley JJ (1996) Pollination by monkey beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Hopliini): flower and colour preferences. Afr Entomol 4(1):7–14Google Scholar
  27. Proctor M, Yeo P, Lack A (1996) The natural history of pollination. Harper Collins Publishers (The New Naturalist), LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Rohde RH, Hoffman MT, Allsopp N (2003) Hanging on a wire: a historical and socio-economic study of Paulshoek village in the communal area of Leliefontein, Namaqualand. Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies. Government, S.O., University of the Western Cape, 1–70Google Scholar
  29. Rutherford M, Midgley G, Bond W, Powrie L, Roberts RH, Allsopp J (1999) Plant biodiversity: vulnerability and adaptation assessment. South African Country Study on Climate Change. Dept of Environment Affairs and Tourism, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  30. Samways MJ (1994) Insect conservation biology. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  31. Seymour CL, Dean WRJ (1999) Effects of heavy grazing on invertebrate assemblages in the Succulent Karoo, South Africa. J Arid Environ 43:267–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Steiner KE (1998) Beetle pollination of peacock moraeas (Iridaceae) in South Africa. Plant Syst Evol 209:47–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Steiner KE, Whitehead VB, Johnson SD (1994) Floral and pollinator divergence in two sexually deceptive South African orchids. Am J Bot 81(2):185–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Struck M (1992) Pollination ecology in the arid winter rainfall region of Southern Africa: case study. Mitt Inst Allg Bot Hamburg 24:61–90Google Scholar
  35. Struck M (1994) Flowers and their insect visitors in the arid winter rainfall region of southern Africa: observations on permanent plots. Insect visitation behaviour. J Arid Environ 28:51–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Todd SW, Hoffman MT (1999) A fence-line contrast reveals effects of heavy grazing on plant diversity and community composition in Namaqualand, South Africa. Plant Ecol 142:169–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vernon CJ (1999) Biogeography, endemism and diversity of animals in the Karoo. In: Dean WRJ, Milton SJ (eds) The Karoo: ecological patterns and processes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 57–78Google Scholar
  38. Webb NR (1989) Studies on the invertebrate fauna of fragmented heathland in Dorset, UK, and the implications for conservation. Biol Conserv 47(2):153–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Whitehead VB, Giliomee JH, Rebelo AG (1987) Insect pollination in the Cape flora. In: Rebelo AG (eds) Preliminary synthesis of pollination biology in the Cape flora. S. Afr. Nat. Scientific Prog. Rep. C.S.I.R, Pretoria, pp 52–82Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biocentre Klein Flottbek Botanical GardenUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations