The pattern and range of movement of a checkered beetle predator relative to its bark beetle prey
ABSTRACT Theoretical studies of predator-prey population dynamics have increasingly centered on the role of space and the movement of organisms. Yet, empirical studies have been slow to follow suit. Herein, we quantified the long-range movement of a checkered beetle, Thanasimus dubius, which is an important predator of a pernicious forest pest, the southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis. Adult checkered beetles were marked and released at five sites and subsequently recaptured at traps baited with pine and pine beetle semiochemicals and located at distances up to 2 km away from the release point. While the pattern of recaptures-with-distance at each site provided a modest fit to a simple random-diffusion model, there was a consistent discrepancy between observed and expected recaptures: a higher than expected proportion of beetles were recaptured at the more distant traps. To account for this deviation, we developed a model of diffusion that allowed for simple heterogeneity in the population of marked beetles; i.e., a slow and fast moving form of the checkered beetle. This model provided a significantly better fit to the data and formed the basis for our estimates of intra-forest movement. We estimated that on average, one half of the checkered beetles dispersed at least 1.25 km, one third dispersed>2 km, and 5% dispersed>5 km. The source of the heterogeneous dispersal rates were partially due to differences in beetle size: smaller beetles (for both males and females) were more likely to be recaptured away from the release site than larger beetles. The southern pine beetle (prey for the checkered beetle) exhibited no significant heterogeneity in dispersal ability and provided a very good fit to the simple diffusion model. The only difference in dispersal between these two species was that checkered beetles were undergoing greater long-distance dispersal than the pine beetles (the radius containing 95% of the dispersing individuals was 5.1 km for the checkered beetle and 2.3 km for the pine beetle). Data on the movement of these two species is used to evaluate a general model of spatial pattern formation in a homogeneous environment, and the potential of the checkered beetle as a biological control agent for the southern pine beetle.
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ABSTRACT: One of the fundamental goals of ecology is to examine how dispersal affects the distribution and dynamics of insects across natural landscapes. These landscapes are frequently divided into patches of habitat embedded in a matrix of several non-habitat regions, and dispersal behavior could vary within each landscape element as well as the edges between elements. Reaction-diffusion models are a common way of modeling dispersal and species interactions in such landscapes, but to apply these models we also need methods of estimating the diffusion rate and any edge behavior parameters. In this paper, we present a method of estimating the diffusion rate using the mean occupancy time for a circular region. We also use mean occupancy time to estimate a parameter (the crossing probability) that governs one type of edge behavior often used in these models, a biased random walk. These new methods have some advantages over other methods of estimating these parameters, including reduced computational cost and ease of use in the field. They also provide a method of estimating the diffusion rate for a particular location in space, compared to existing methods that represent averages over large areas. We further examine the statistical properties of the new method through simulation, and discuss how mean occupancy time could be estimated in field experiments.Journal of Mathematical Biology 07/2012; · 2.37 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: A typical feature of forest insect pests is their tendency to undergo large fluctuations in abundance, which can jeopardize the persistence of their predaceous natural enemies. One strategy that these predators may adopt to cope with these fluctuations would be to respond to sensory cues for multiple prey species. Another possible adaptation to temporal variation in the prey community could involve the learning of prey cues and switching behavior. We conducted three experiments to investigate the ability of the generalist bark beetle predator Thanasimus dubius (F.) (Coleoptera: Cleridae) to respond to different prey signals and to investigate the effect of olfactory experience. We first conducted a field choice test and a wind tunnel experiment to examine the kairomonal response of individual predators toward prey pheromone components (frontalin, ipsenol, ipsdienol, sulcatol) along with the pine monoterpene α-pinene, which is a volatile compound from the host of the prey. We also presented semiochemically naive predators with two prey pheromone components, frontalin and ipsenol, alone or associated with a reward. Our results showed that T. dubius populations are composed of generalists that can respond to a broad range of kairomonal signals. Naive T. dubius also were more attracted to ipsenol following its association with a reward. This work constitutes the first evidence that the behavior of a predatory insect involved in bark beetle population dynamics is influenced by previous olfactory experience, and provides a potential explanation for the pattern of prey switching observed in field studies.Journal of Chemical Ecology 11/2011; 37(11):1166-76. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: There is a need for quantitative data on patterns and rates of movement of organisms to understand their movement behavior and predict their rates of spread. Opportunities for studying movement of biological control agents are presented during release programs. However, despite these opportunities, patterns and range of dispersal are often not considered. For example, information about effects of wind on dispersal patterns and heterogeneities in rates of movement is critical to predicting future range expansion of biological control agents and determining proximity of multiple releases. Here, the pattern and range of movement of a fire ant parasitoid, Pseudacteon tricuspis Borgmeier, was investigated by performing a series of mass-release-resighting experiments. Flies were released at a central location surrounded by radial transects containing trays of host ants at variable distances along four axes. Resighted flies were censused at these trays at 30 min intervals, up to 2 h postrelease. The dispersal pattern of P. tricuspis in the short term was consistent with a simple diffusion model. On average, 50% of P. tricuspis dispersed ≤10 m, and 95% dispersed ≤29 m. Diffusion rates were variable, depending on release densities, but tended to decline over time after release. Drift of dispersing flies was detected in several trials, and was attributed to prevailing wind dynamics. Data from this assessment of the short term redistribution pattern of P. tricuspis could be useful in determining proximity of releases of this, and other fire ant parasitoids.Environmental Entomology 02/2011; 40(1):73-81. · 1.31 Impact Factor