Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 279–285 | Cite as

Abiotic variables dictate the best monitoring times for the endangered Table Mountain stag beetle (Colophon westwoodi Gray 1832, Coleoptera: Lucanidae)

  • Francois RoetsEmail author
  • James S. Pryke
  • Melodie A. McGeoch


There is often a lack of basic ecological data needed to implement effective conservation management programmes for endangered arthropods. This is particularly true for the highly localized and rare Colophon, a genus of beetles of which all members are narrow range endemics of conservation concern. The genus is confined to the highest mountain peaks in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa and each of the 17 known species is endemic to a particular mountain or range. We investigated the influence of selected abiotic variables on adult Colophon westwoodi activity in Table Mountain National Park, South Africa, which will aid the development of an effective monitoring programme. Weekly surveys conducted on Table Mountain showed that adult numbers peaked during early summer. Adults were active at dusk on clear days, although earlier when misty. Unexpectedly, relative humidity and air temperature had no significant effect on Colophon abundance, while illuminance was the most important predictor. Contrary to general consensus, C. westwoodi activity is not strictly crepuscular but also appears nocturnal. Thus, Colophon monitoring programmes need to be conducted in early summer after sunset and monitoring can continue later than previously assumed. Little is still known about C. westwoodi population size, area of occupancy, general behaviour and the impact tourists have on it, or indeed why the genus is restricted to mountain tops. Therefore this research is important for the design of monitoring protocols for this flagship species, while at the same time directing future research.


Invertebrate monitoring Biodiversity conservation Endemic arthropod Cape Floristic Region Narrow range endemic 



We thank the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (Permit number 0035-AAA004-00615) and Table Mountain National Park operated by the South African National Parks for permission to work in the park. This study would not have been possible without help from numerous people that assisted with conducting surveys, often under the most trying of conditions.


  1. Araya K (1993) Relationship between the decay types of dead wood and occurrence of lucanid beetles (Coleoptera: Lucanidae). Appl Entomol Zool 28:27–33Google Scholar
  2. Barnard KH (1929) A study of the genus Colophon Gray. Trans R Soc S Afr 18:163–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartolozzi L (1995) Description of a new species of Colophon from South Africa (Coleoptera, Lucanidae). Fragm Entomol Roma 26:333–340Google Scholar
  4. Bartolozzi L (2005) Description of two new stag beetle species from South Africa (Coleoptera: Lucanidae). Afr Entomol 13:347–352Google Scholar
  5. Brinck P (1956) Coleoptera: Lucanidae. S Afr Anim Life 3:304–335Google Scholar
  6. Cavallini P, Nel JAJ (1990) Ranging behavior of the Cape Grey mongoose Galerella pulverulenta in a coastal area. J Zool Lond 222:353–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Daniels SR, Picker M, Cowling RM, Hamer M (2009) Unraveling evolutionary lineages among South African velvet worms (Onychophora: Peripatopsis)—evidence for cryptic species complexes. Biol J Linn Soc 97:200–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dobson A (2005) Monitoring global rates of biodiversity change: challenges that arise in meeting the convention on biological diversity (CBD) 2010 goals. Philos Tr Soc B 360:229–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Endrödy-Younga S (1988) Evidence for the low-altitude origin of the Cape Mountain Biome derived from the systematic revision of the genus Colophon Gray (Coleoptera: Lucanidae). Ann S Afr Mus 96:359–424Google Scholar
  10. Forsyth GG, van Wilgen BW (2008) The recent fire history of the Table Mountain National Park and implications for fire management. Koedoe 50:3–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Geertsema H, Owen CR (2007) Notes on the habitat and adult behaviour of three red-listed Colophon spp. (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) of the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. J Insect Conserv 11:43–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gess FW, Gess SK (1993) Irresponsible collecting for financial gain. Lett Afr Wildl 47:187Google Scholar
  13. Goldblatt P, Manning J (2000) Cape plants. A conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa, Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute of South Africa, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  14. Henning GA, Terblanche RF, Ball JB (2009) South African red data book: butterflies. SANBI biodiversity series 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  15. IUCN (2009) IUCN red list of threatened species.
  16. Lovell S, Hamer M, Slotow R, Herbert D (2010) Assessment of sampling approaches for a multi-taxa invertebrate survey in a South African savanna-mosaic ecosystem. Austral Ecol 35:357–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McCulloch CE, Searle SR, Neuhaus JM (2008) Generalized, linear, and mixed models, 2nd edn. Wiley, USAGoogle Scholar
  18. McGeoch MA, Sithole H, Samways MJ, Simaika JP, Pryke JS, Picker M et al (2011a) Conservation and monitoring of invertebrates in terrestrial protected areas. Koedoe 53:137–149Google Scholar
  19. McGeoch MA, Dopolo M, Novellie P, Hendriks H, Freitag S, Ferreira S, Grant R, Kruger J, Bezuidenhout H, Randall RM, Vermeulen W, Kraaij T, Russell IA, Knight MH, Holness S, Oosthuizen A (2011b) A strategic framework for biodiversity monitoring in SAN parks’. Koedoe 53:48–57Google Scholar
  20. Melisch R, Schütz P (2000) Butterflies and beetles in Germany. Traffic Bull 18:91–93Google Scholar
  21. Mittermeier RA, Gil PR, Hoffmann M, Pilgrim J, Brooks T, Mittermeier CG, Lamoreux J, da Fonseca GAB (2004) Hotspots revisited: earth’s biologically richest and most endangered ecoregions. CEMEX, MexicoGoogle Scholar
  22. Mizukami T, Kawai S (1997) Nature of South Africa and ecological notes on the genus Colophon Gray. Gekkan-Mushi Suppl 2:1–79Google Scholar
  23. Mucina L, Rutherford MC (2006) The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SANBI, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  24. Nagel JF (1956) Fog precipitation on Table Mountain. Q J R Meteor Soc 82:452–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. New TR (1995) Introduction to invertebrate conservation biology. Oxford University press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  26. New TR (2009) Insect species conservation. Ecology, biodiversity and conservation series. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Onore G (1994) Description of the immature stages of six species of Sphaenognathus, with comparative notes on phylogeny and natural history (Insecta: Coleoptera: Lucanidae). Ann Carnegie Mus 63:77–99Google Scholar
  28. Peters RL, Darling JDS (1985) The greenhouse effect and nature reserves. Bioscience 35:707–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pryke JS, Samways MJ (2008) Conservation of invertebrate biodiversity on a mountain in a global biodiversity hotspot, Cape Floral Region. Biodivers Conserv 17:3027–3043CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pryke JS, Samways MJ (2009) Conservation of the insect assemblages of the Cape Peninsula biodiversity hotspot. J Insect Conserv 13:627–641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pryke JS, Samways MJ (2010) Significant variables for the conservation of mountain invertebrates. J Insect Conserv 14:247–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pryke JS, Samways MJ (2012) Importance of using many taxa and having adequate controls for monitoring impacts of fire for arthropod conservation. J Insect Conserv 16:177–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rebelo TG, Freitag S, Cheney C, McGeoch MA (2011) Prioritising species of special concern for monitoring in Table Mountain National Park: the challenge of a species-rich, threatened ecosystem. Koedoe 53:164–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Scholtz CH, Endrödy-Younga S (1994) Systematic position of Colophon Gray (Coleoptera: Lucanidae), based on larval characters. Afr Entomol 2:13–20Google Scholar
  35. Turner C (2007) Water beetles associated with reservoirs on Table Mountain, Cape Town: implications for conservation. J Insect Conserv 11:75–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. van Wilgen BW, Bond WJ, Richardson DM (1992) The management of fynbos ecosystems—principles and scenarios. In: Cowling RM (ed) The ecology of fynbos: nutrients, fire and diversity. Oxford University Press, Cape TownGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francois Roets
    • 1
    Email author
  • James S. Pryke
    • 1
  • Melodie A. McGeoch
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Conservation Ecology and EntomologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Cape Research CentreSouth African National ParksCape TownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations