Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 13, pp 2883–2902 | Cite as

Should I stay or should I go? Modelling dispersal strategies in saproxylic insects based on pheromone capture and radio telemetry: a case study on the threatened hermit beetle Osmoderma eremita

  • Glenn P. SvenssonEmail author
  • Ullrika Sahlin
  • Björn Brage
  • Mattias C. Larsson
Original Paper


To predict how organisms cope with habitat fragmentation we must understand their dispersal biology, which can be notoriously difficult. We used a novel, multi-pronged approach to study dispersal strategies in the endangered saproxylic hermit beetle Osmoderma eremita, exploiting its pheromone system to intercept high numbers of dispersing individuals, which is not possible with other methods. Mark-release-recapture, using unbaited pitfall traps inside oak hollows and pheromone-baited funnel traps suspended from tree branches, was combined with radio telemetry (in females only) to record displacements. Dispersal, modelled as a probability distribution of net displacement, did not differ significantly between sexes (males versus females recaptured), observation methods (females recaptured versus radio-tracked), or sites of first capture (pitfall trap in tree versus pheromone trap – distance from original dispersal point unknown). A model including all observed individuals yielded a mean displacement of 82 m with 1% dispersing > 1 km. Differences in body length were small between individuals captured in pitfall versus pheromone traps, indicating that dispersal is rarely a condition-dependent response in O. eremita. Individuals captured in pheromone traps were consistently lighter, indicating that most dispersal events occur relatively late in life, which agrees with trap catch data. In addition, most (79%) females captured in pheromone traps were mated, showing that females typically mate before leaving their natal tree. Our data show that integrating odour attractants into insect conservation biology provides a means to target dispersing individuals and could greatly improve our knowledge of dispersal biology in threatened species.


Dispersal Mark-release-recapture Radio tracking Pheromone traps Modelling Oviposition experiments Conservation 



This research was funded by Stiftelsen Eklandskapet i Linköpings kommun, Bjärka-Säby stiftelsen, the Crafoord Foundation, the Magnus Bergvall Foundation, the Linnaeus initiative “Insect Chemical Ecology, Ethology and Evolution” (ICE3), and strategic funds from the vice chancellor at Lund University for collaboration with SLU, Alnarp. We thank Gunilla Ångström-Balla, Hedvig Boreson, Marie Garstad, Therese Lindström and Niclas Berg for excellent field assistance, Jon Loman for lending the receiver and antenna, and Thomas Ranius for improving the manuscript. We are also thankful to the landowners Oscar Ekman Jr. and Henric Falkenberg for allowing access to their property.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenn P. Svensson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ullrika Sahlin
    • 2
  • Björn Brage
    • 3
  • Mattias C. Larsson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of BiologyEcology Building, Lund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.School of Natural SciencesLinneaus UniversityKalmarSweden
  3. 3.County Administrative Board of VästmanlandVästeråsSweden
  4. 4.Department of Plant Protection BiologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden

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