Geographic variation in the habitat preference of a scarce predatory insect: evolutionary and conservation perspectives

John J. Sloggett*, Ilja Zeilstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)

Abstract

1. While there has been considerable focus on prey occurrence as a factor determining the habitat preference of predators, the roles of other factors related to the habitat are less well characterised.

2. In aphidophagous ladybird beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), a number of species are more restricted in the habitats in which they live than are their prey. A number of such ladybirds appear to show geographic variation in habitat preference.

3. To better understand these phenomena, this study considered geographic variation in habitat preference in one such species, the 5-spot ladybird Coccinella quinquepunctata. Because of this ladybird's scarcity, a combination of over 20 years' observations, habitat surveys and online data was used to reach the study's conclusions.

4. The data collected indicate that the ladybird is specialised in pioneer habitats close to water, but broadens its range to non-riverine pioneer habitats in north-west continental Europe, where it is likely that a damper (micro)climate allows it to do so. Thus, microclimatic factors appear to be important in determining the habitat of this and probably other predators that are not constrained by prey occurrence.

5. Although threatened by river management elsewhere, in north-western Europe, this species clearly benefits from human activity, which creates many of the disturbed habitats it colonises there. This finding provides further support for the contention that many ladybirds are net beneficiaries of human influence, although they are often characterised as threatened.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-395
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Entomology
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • anthropogenic habitats
  • climate
  • Coccinella quinquepunctata
  • Coccinellidae
  • latitudinal variation
  • pioneer species
  • APHIDOPHAGOUS LADYBIRD BEETLES
  • HARMONIA-AXYRIDIS COLEOPTERA
  • COCCINELLIDAE COLEOPTERA
  • OVIPOSITION PREFERENCE
  • SPECIALIZATION
  • GENERALIST
  • DIVERSITY
  • APHIDS
  • DIET

Cite this