Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 165–175 | Cite as

Habitat quality matters for the distribution of an endangered leaf beetle and its egg parasitoid in a fragmented landscape

  • Annette Heisswolf
  • Stefanie Reichmann
  • Hans Joachim Poethke
  • Boris Schröder
  • Elisabeth Obermaier
Original Paper


Fragmentation, deterioration, and loss of habitat patches threaten the survival of many insect species. Depending on their trophic level, species may be differently affected by these factors. However, studies investigating more than one trophic level on a landscape scale are still rare. In the present study we analyzed the effects of habitat size, isolation, and quality for the occurrence and population density of the endangered leaf beetle Cassida canaliculata Laich. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) and its egg parasitoid, the hymenopteran wasp Foersterella reptans Nees (Hymenoptera: Tetracampidae). C. canaliculata is strictly monophagous on meadow sage (Salvia pratensis), while F. reptans can also parasitize other hosts. Both size and isolation of habitat patches strongly determined the occurrence of the beetle. However, population density increased to a much greater extent with increasing host plant density ( = habitat quality) than with habitat size. The occurrence probability of the egg parasitoid increased with increasing population density of C. canaliculata. In conclusion, although maintaining large, well-connected patches with high host plant density is surely the major conservation goal for the specialized herbivore C. canaliculata, also small patches with high host plant densities can support viable populations and should thus be conserved. The less specialized parasitoid F. reptans is more likely to be found on patches with high beetle density, while patch size and isolation seem to be less important.


Habitat fragmentation Herbivore Host plant density Metapopulation Multitrophic 



We are grateful to Robert Biedermann for providing the ‘Isolator’ software and to Thomas Hovestadt and Oliver Mitesser for statistical advice. Thomas O. Crist as well as an anonymous referee gave valuable comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We thank the government of Lower Franconia (Bavaria, Germany) for the permission to work and to collect beetles in the nature reserve. This study used results from the MOSAIK-project which was financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, grant 01LN 0007). A. Heisswolf was financially supported through a scholarship granted by the Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. Villigst.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annette Heisswolf
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stefanie Reichmann
    • 1
    • 3
  • Hans Joachim Poethke
    • 1
  • Boris Schröder
    • 4
  • Elisabeth Obermaier
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Field Station FabrikschleichachUniversity of WürzburgRauhenebrachGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Section of EcologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Section of ZoologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  4. 4.Institute of GeoecologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  5. 5.Department of Biology, Section of Animal Ecology and Tropical BiologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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