Monday, December 11, 2006

Using geographic information systems to study species distributions in five species of Mycotrupes beetles, and its implications for conservation

Kyle A. Beucke,, University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL and Marc A. Branham,, University of Florida, Entomology and Nematology, Natural Area Drive, P.O. Box 110620, Gainesville, FL.

Studies of biodiversity are increasingly using geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze features associated with species distributions. These methods can be used to quantify species distributions, correlate these patterns with specific habitat features and serve as a predictive tool for surveying for unknown populations. This type of data has important conservation applications, such as identifying threatened ecosystems as well as species with limited distributions. Mycotrupes (Coleoptera: Geotrupidae) contains five species of flightless beetles that live in sandhill and scrub habitats in the southeastern United States. Mycotrupes gaigei Olson and Hubbell, 1954, a species restricted to Florida, was studied in detail to test the effectiveness of using GIS to understand distribution in Mycotrupes species. By mapping collection data from pinned museum specimens across its known distribution in Florida as well as habitat features (such as vegetation, soil type, etc) we quantified the known species limits as well as predicted where else this species may occur. Areas that are not known to support M. gaigei populations but have the same habitat characteristics as known populations were surveyed using pitfall trapping. A more complete knowledge of the distributions of Mycotrupes species has obvious benefits for the conservation of potentially rare or threatened species in this genus.

Species 1: Coleoptera Geotrupidae Mycotrupes