Macrohabitat associations and phenology of carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae, Leiodidae: Cholevinae)

Matthew Esh*, ANNE OXBROUGH

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As decomposers of vertebrate carcasses, carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae, Leiodidae: Cholevinae) play a significant role in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Despite this, the ecology and phenology of this group is relatively understudied. This research determines carrion beetle assemblages in three macrohabitats—native broadleaf woodland, non-native coniferous plantations and unforested sites of grassland or heathland. Further, it explores phenological changes over the growing season. Each macrohabitat type was replicated in eight geographical clusters, giving a total of 24 sites. Clusters were selected to give a wide geographical spread across Britain. Six pitfalls were set at each site, three baited with mice and three with cheese. Traps were set and collected fortnightly within every month from May to September 2016. The taxa differed in response to macrohabitat and growing season. Silphidae assemblages differed between forested and unforested habitats, whereas Leiodidae: Cholevinae were not distinguished by macrohabitat, although some specialists of forests were
identified. Silphidae assemblages differed over the growing season, with May and June supporting a different suite of species to those in July—September. In contrast, Leiodidae: Cholevinae assemblages changed very little over the growing season though some species did prefer particular time periods.
Implications for insect conservation This research presents the first large-scale study of the macrohabitat preference and phenology of carrion beetles in Western Europe, providing important ecological and phenological information which could aid in their conservation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Insect Conservation
Early online date30 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Silphidae
  • Leiodidae: Cholevinae
  • carrion
  • habitat preference
  • phenology

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