Wing-dimorphism and population expansion of Pterostichus melanarius (Illiger, 1798) at small and large scales in central Alberta, Canada (Coleoptera, Carabidae, Pterostichini)

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  • Abstract: A study spanning ten years revealed changes in wing-morph ratios corroborating the hypothesis that the wing-dimorphic introduced carabid, Pterostichus melanarius Ill., is spreading through flight, from the city of Edmonton, Canada and establishing populations in natural aspen forest of more rural areas 45-50 km to the East. Comparison of wing-morph ratios between P melanarius and the native wing dimorphic species Agonum retractum LeConte suggests that the spatial variation in ratios for P. melanarius does not reflect underlying environmental variation, but instead the action of selective forces on this wing-dimorphic species. About ten years after its earliest detection in some rural sites the frequency of macropterous individuals in P. melanarius has decreased c. five-fold, but it is still above the level seen in European populations in which the two wing-morphs are thought to exist in equilibrium. P. melanarius is expanding its range in native aspen forest much faster than three other introduced species Clivina fossor L.), Carabus granulatus O.F. Muller and Clivina fossor L also encountered in this study. The two Carabus species are flightless, but C. fossor can be dimorphic. Although these four non-native ground beetle species comprise >85% of the carabids collected at sites in urban Edmonton, activity-density of native carabids was similar across the urban-rural gradient, suggesting little direct impact of introduced species on the local abundance of native species. In a second study conducted at a smaller scale near George Lake, Alberta, macropterous individuals of P. melanarius have penetrated furthest and most rapidly into native aspen forest. Furthermore, the percentage of micropterous individuals has increased markedly in areas first colonized a decade previously. Overall, these studies support the idea that macropterous beetles in wing-d dimorphic species are important vanguards for early colonization of unexploited territory, but that flightless individuals replace the flying morph relatively rapidly once populations are established.

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    Conference/Workshop Presentation
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    Attribution 3.0 International
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    • Bourassa, S, JR Spence, DJ Hartley & Seung-Il Lee. 2011. Wing-dimorphism and population expansion of Pterostichus melanarius (Illiger, 1798) at small and large scales in central Alberta, Canada (Coleoptera, Carabidae, Pterostichini). In Erwin, TL (Ed), Proceedings of a Symposium honoring the careers of Ross and Joyce Bell and their contributions to scientific work, Burlington, VT, 12-15 June 2010. ZooKeys 147: 545-558. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.147.2097.