Local dynamics and dispersal in a structured population of the whirligig beetle Dineutus assimilis

B. Nürnberger

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Abstract / Description of output

The study illustrates the ecological determinants and evolutionary consequences of dispersal in the pond-living water beetle Dineutus assimilis (Coleoptera: Gyrinidae). Over 2 years, local population dynamics were studied in 51 ponds within a 60-km study area. In most of the 31 occupied ponds, and even in large populations, abundances changed dramatically from one year to the next. Nine extinction and nine colonisation events were observed. These temporal patterns show no sign of spatial autocorrelation. Such a habitat distribution should favour high dispersal rates. Indeed, D. assimilis was found to be a very effective coloniser of newly available sites (mean propagule size: 23). A mark-recapture study showed that most dispersal occurred after diapause and over distances ranging from 100 m to at least 20 km. Yet despite frequent movement, the local variability in environmental conditions maintains a large variance in average reproductive success per pond. Furthermore, immigration rates vary widely within a season. The apparent lack of correlation between these two sources of variation should greatly strengthen the role of drift in this system. A companion paper (Nurnberger and Harrison 1995) documents a non- random distribution of mitochondrial haplotypes due to recent population bottle- necks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-336
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1996


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