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Intraspecific variations in dispersal ability of saproxylic beetles in fragmented forest patches

Abstract : From metapopulation concepts applied to saproxylic insects, the occupancy of forest patches and the colonization of ephemeral deadwood substrates are driven by micro-evolutionary processes, related to adaptive plasticity and intraspecific sex-dependent polymorphism of dispersal traits. We hypothesized that forest fragmentation could favour more mobile individuals within populations but few empirical data have been published about the, potentially sex-biased, response of insect populations to habitat availability. We selected 88 fragmented woodlots in European agricultural landscapes to cover different degrees of spatio-temporal fragmentation, from small, isolated and recently established woodlots to large, inter-connected ancient woodlots. In line with our hypothesis, the average wing loading, used as a proxy for dispersal ability, for each of nine flight-dispersing saproxylic beetle species, should be lower in recent, small, isolated than in ancient, large, connected woodlots, respectively. Forest patch size did not significantly influence the average dispersal ability of beetle colonizers. However, wing loading of one third of the tested species did significantly respond to forest ancientness or connectivity. Significant patterns were sex-biased, probably due to the contrasting role of males and females in species colonization dynamics. Wing loading was lower in recent than in ancient forest plots, for Melandrya barbata males; and it was lower in isolated than in connected woodlots for Tetratoma ancora and Phymatodes testaceus males. Contrary to expectations, we did not observe any decrease in polymorphism of dispersal abilities with decreasing woodlot size or increasing isolation. Our findings give support to the usefulness of gender consideration in insect conservation ecology studies.
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Christophe Bouget, Antoine Brin, David Tellez, Frédéric Archaux. Intraspecific variations in dispersal ability of saproxylic beetles in fragmented forest patches. Oecologia, Springer Verlag, 2015, 177 (3), pp.911-920. ⟨10.1007/s00442-014-3162-9⟩. ⟨hal-02601122⟩



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