Aquatic beetle dispersal

Interannual patterns and drivers of dispersal in aquatic beetles
Dispersal is a critical life history component and occurs when certain life history stages are reached or as environmental conditions pass thresholds that cue movement from a patch. Dispersal is often timed to match seasonal changes in resource availability, weather patterns, mate availability, or physiological constraints. Optimal matching between dispersal and any of these factors is essential, and mismatch could prove costly, potentially eliminating the entire lifetime reproductive output of an organism or even a population. My goal is to identify interannual seasonal patterns of dispersal in adult aquatic beetles and determine how weather affects these dispersal patterns. I hypothesized that some species would display predictable patterns of dispersal, and that precipitation and temperature are important seasonal drivers of dispersal. I set up mesocosms that dispersing beetles colonize, and I have collected beetles from these mesocosms weekly since May 2014. Preliminary results show very predictable patterns of some beetle species, and that temperature is a driver of dispersal in winter, whereas precipitation is a driver in late summer/fall. Monitoring beetle dispersal will increase our knowledge of the life history of these poorly understood species and provide an indication of how species may respond as climate change progresses.


This webpage was a submission to Sigmi Xi’s 2017 Student Research Showcase.

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