Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 61–73 | Cite as

Unfortunate encounters? Novel interactions of native Mecyclothorax, alien Trechus obtusus (Coleoptera: Carabidae), and Argentine ant (Linepithema humile, Hymenoptera: Formicidae) across a Hawaiian landscape

  • James K. LiebherrEmail author
  • Paul D. Krushelnycky
Beetle Conservation


The Hawaiian Islands support a speciose radiation of native Mecyclothorax beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae). This lineage has undergone a classical island radiation resulting in extensive ecological specialization, flight-wing loss, and 100% single-island endemism. We report on the sympatric occurrence of several Mecyclothorax species endemic to Haleakala volcano, East Maui with the newly arrived, adventive Trechus obtusus (Coleoptera: Carabidae), a tramp species originally from Europe. Arrival of T. obtusus in afforested, non-native gymnosperm plantation forest near Polipoli, Maui was associated with subsequent decreased abundance of native Mecyclothorax beetles. Since discovery of T. obtusus on Haleakala, their populations have been transformed through subsequent increase in frequency of brachypterous individuals. Consequences of this transformation to flight-wing dimorphic populations may simultaneously include enhanced reproductive capacity of brachypterous individuals, increased local adaptation of populations, and enhanced metapopulational dynamics ultimately permitting range expansion and occupation far beyond anything observed for the monomorphically brachypterous native Mecyclothorax. Trechus obtusus and several Mecyclothorax species occur sympatrically with Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in subalpine shrublands on Haleakala. Recent sampling corroborates earlier findings that localized presence of Argentine ant is associated with significantly decreased abundance of native Mecyclothorax. Conversely, abundance of the continental T. obtusus is not significantly affected by ant presence.


Adaptation Adventive species Afforestation Area of endemism Brachyptery Invasion 


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This research was supported in part by the␣National Science Foundation REVSYS award DEB-0315504, the Hawaii Audubon Society, Pacific Rim Research Program, the Margaret C. Walker Fund, the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program, Haleakala National Park and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to P.D.K. We thank Raina Takumi Kaholoa‘a, Haleakala National Park, for sampling carabid beetles, and Rosemary Gillespie for providing guidance to P.D.K. Mandy Anhalt, Caroline Berman, Jason Long, Marshall Loope, Andrew Marks and Kimberly Tice assisted with sorting pitfall samples. Betsy Harrison Gagné, Natural Areas Reserve System, State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources provided assistance and encouragement for surveying the insect fauna of Hawaii. We thank Forest Starr for a copy of E. M. Griffith’s 1902 report on the status of Hawaiian Forests, and Andy Suarez and Kip Will for sharing their San Diego Co. carabid beetle data. We also thank Dan A. Polhemus and Curtis P. Ewing for their collaborations in field surveys. The Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, Department of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa, provided administrative assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyJohn H. and Anna B. Comstock Hall, Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Organisms and Environment, Department of Environmental Science, Policy & ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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