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Ecological relationships of a guild of tropical beetles breeding in Cecropia petioles in Costa Rica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 1998

Institute of Zoology, University of Bergen, Allégaten 41, N-5007 Bergen, Norway
Institute of Zoology, University of Bergen, Allégaten 41, N-5007 Bergen, Norway


Petioles are not usually thought of as a habitat for wood-boring insects. The large, woody leaf petioles of Neotropical Cecropia trees, however, have a diverse coleopterous fauna: 36 beetle species in three subfamilies of Cerambycidae and Curculionidae were recorded from Cecropia leafstalks in Costa Rica. A high percentage of the petioles were colonized by beetles in many patches, though fewer were colonized in sun-exposed sites. Community composition was dependent on forest type, petiole moisture and geographical location, but not on the species of Cecropia. Species of Scolytinae were most abundant though species of Zygopinae and Lamiinae were found regularly. The host-specific scolytine genus Scolytodes dominated in most localities, although species of Hypothenemus, Coccotrypes and Xylosandrus morigerus occurred frequently. Sympatric species of Scolytodes clearly used different parts of the petioles. Brood sizes of scolytine beetles were extremely low, ranging from two to ten offspring on average. However, mortality due to parasitoid wasps or predators was low, and since fresh leaves fall close to the previously fallen ones, mortality due to dispersal may also be low. Thus, large beetle populations can exist despite extremely low brood sizes.

Research Article
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

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