Monitoring spatiotemporal variation in abundance and dispersal by a pheromone-kairomone system in the threatened saproxylic beetles Osmoderma eremita and Elater ferrugineus
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Pheromone monitoring could provide unique spatial and temporal information about rare and threatened insect species for conservation purposes. Pheromone traps may be especially valuable in detecting fluctuations and declines in vulnerable species, if trap catch can be related to population density. We exploited the pheromone-kairomone system of the hermit beetle Osmoderma eremita and its predator, the red click beetle Elater ferrugineus, to monitor variation in their flight activity during 7 years (2001–2002, 2005–2009). Spatial and temporal flight activity of O. eremita and E. ferrugineus were highly correlated over individual trap replicates and trap days. Yearly flight activities of both species were correlated within two core sites included during all years of the study, and positively affected by temperature both within and between years. Flight activity could not be directly translated to variation in abundance in either species, however. Dispersal rate was likely the main factor explaining flight activity in O. eremita. Normalizing the flight activity of E. ferrugineus against that of O. eremita did not eliminate most of the variability, however, suggesting that flight activity of E. ferrugineus was governed both by dispersal rate and by population density. Higher fluctuations in population density of E. ferrugineus likely render it more vulnerable to local extinction, which may explain the greater rarity of this species. We suggest that preserving large assemblies of suitable hollow trees would be absolutely essential for buffering against stochastic population fluctuations and securing the long-term persistence of E. ferrugineus.
KeywordsColeoptera Conservation Population Sex pheromone Time series Variability
We are grateful to Kajsa Mellbrand, Jonas Hedin, Annelie Andersson, Karin Loqvist, Björn Brage, Marie Garstad, Therese Lindström, Niclas Berg, Hedvig Boreson, Gunilla Ångström-Balla, and Frida Johansson for field assistance; to Jan-Eric Englund for statistical advice; to Thomas Ranius and one anonymous referee for improving the manuscript; to SMHI for weather data; to landowners Oscar Ekman and Henric Falkenberg for allowing access to their property. This study was supported by Stiftelsen Eklandskapet i Linköpings kommun, Bergvalls Stiftelse, Lunds Djurskyddsfond, Bjärka-Säbystiftelsen, the Linnaeus initiative Insect Chemical Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution (ICE3), and strategic funds from the vice chancellor at Lund University for collaboration with Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
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