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Incidence and population dynamics of the leaf beetle Gonioctena olivacea in dynamic habitats

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In natural as well as in cultural landscapes, disturbance and succession are responsible for the emergence and subsequent disappearance of suitable habitat patches. The dynamics of habitat patches has important consequences for the spatial structure and dynamics of regional populations. However, there are only few studies quantifying both patch dynamics and incidence of insect species in a dynamic landscape over several years. I studied the incidence and population dynamics of the leaf beetle Gonioctena olivacea in a system of dynamic patches of the host plant Scotch broom Cytisus scoparius. The incidence of the beetle was most strongly affected by patch area, whereas connectivity, patch quality, patch age, and landscape context had no or only a minor effect when analysed with logistic regression. The size of local beetle populations was highly fluctuating between the years; however, the population dynamics of the local populations was not synchronous. Adjacent patches did not show higher degrees of synchrony than patches separated by large distances. In the three years of study, local populations became extinct through demographic or environmental stochasticity and patch destruction. Each year >10% of the patches disappeared. The extinction rate of beetles in persistent patches was decreasing with increasing patch area. On the other hand, patches newly emerged and were rapidly colonized by the beetle. The colonization rate depended on patch connectivity. Obviously, Gonioctena olivacea was capable of persisting in this system with high turnover of patches owing to its high dispersal power.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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