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Dispersal abilities of adult click beetles in arable land revealed by analysis of carbon stable isotopes

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1 The dispersal abilities of agrioted beetles, serious pests on a variety of crops, are poorly known under natural conditions. This hampers their control. We used, for the first time, a stable isotope approach to assess dispersal of adult Agriotes obscurus in arable land.

2 After a diet switch from a C3- to a C4-plant, carbon isotope ratios of A. obscurus larvae significantly changed towards the isotopic signature of the new diet. Moreover, the larval 13C signatures were transferred to the wing covers of the adult beetles with little distortion.

3 To assess the dispersal abilities under natural conditions, pheromone traps, lured for Agriotes sp., were installed at two study sites in Western Austria. Each site comprised a maize field (= C4-plant) and adjacent C3-grasslands with traps established along a transect of increasing distance to the maize.

4 13C signatures of wing covers revealed that adult male A. obscurus were able to migrate at least 80 m, which was the maximum distance that dispersal could be traced in the present study. The dispersal behaviour might have been influenced by site-specific factors.

5 The results obtained demonstrate a higher potential of adult male Agriotes to disperse than previously assumed. Moreover, the combination of pheromone trapping and stable isotope analysis proved to be an effective approach to study insect movement and dispersal in arable systems harbouring C3- and C4-crops.
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Keywords: Agriotes obscurus; pest control; pheromone traps; wireworms; 13C

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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