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Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 5–6, pp 957–965 | Cite as

Distribution, abundance, and ecology of the threatened Gibson’s Big Sand Tiger Beetle (Cicindela formosa gibsoni Brown) in the Elbow Sand Hills of Saskatchewan

  • Aaron J. BellEmail author
  • Kiara S. Calladine
  • Iain D. Phillips
ORIGINAL PAPER
  • 47 Downloads

Abstract

Gibson’s Big Sand tiger beetle, Cicindela formosa gibsoni Brown, occurs primarily in the Saskatchewan sand hills and was recently listed as threatened in Canada due to habitat loss caused by dune stabilization. Herein, we report on a 3-year population study initiated in 2016 to better understand the distribution, abundance, and ecology of C. f. gibsoni in the Elbow Sand Hills, a large active dune complex in southern Saskatchewan. Estimated adult population size for the dune complex varied from a low of 1106 (95% confidence interval (CI) 975–1237) to a high of 1474 (CI 1350–1598), possibly due to inter-annual variation in May–June rainfall. Adult abundance varied substantially between interdunal swales (0–137 individuals), with the highest numbers occurring in sparsely-vegetated habitats on the stoss side of the dune complex where the rate of encroachment by vegetation is highest. Approximately a third of the total population is concentrated within a relatively small area (~ 6 ha) in the northwestern region of the dune complex, although the specific cause for this localized distribution is not clear. Our findings suggest that the distribution of C. f. gibsoni within the dune complex is not limited by prey availability or larval habitat quality but is instead related to the amount of sparsely-vegetated habitat. We hypothesize that sparsely-vegetated areas allow beetles to shuttle between exposed and shaded microhabitats, thereby assisting in thermoregulation and maintenance of high body temperatures that are optimal for foraging.

Keywords

Coleoptera Dune stabilization Maxithermal Population size Sand dunes Temperature 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are fortunate to have had support from many people throughout this study. We thank J. Houston, S. Srayko, N. Moen, D. McElligot, R. Robinson, J. Helfrick, E. McVittie, W. Fincham, L. Craig-Moore, B. Gardner, E. Putz, N. Vanerleest, and S. Marshall for their assistance chasing tigers. J. Acorn provided endless encouragement, guidance throughout this project, and helpful suggestions on the manuscript. Special thanks to C. Gowan and B. Knisley for their knowledge, expertise in conducting population studies of tiger beetles, and comments that improved the manuscript. Logistical support for this project was provided by Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, J. Bell, D. Bell, and Douglas Provincial Park staff. Funding for this project was provided by the Young Prairie Stewardship Grant to AJB, AquaTax Consulting, and the Canada Summer Work program. Permission to conduct this study was provided by the Ministry of Environment (Permit Number: 17FW205) and the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Troutreach Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Wildlife FederationMoose JawCanada
  3. 3.Water Quality and Habitat Assessment ServicesWater Security Agency of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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