Habitat-specific movement and edge-mediated behavior of the saproxylic insect odontotaenius disjunctus (coleoptera: Passalidae)

Heather Bird Jackson
Kristen A. Baum
Tristan Robert
James T. Cronin


The ability to disperse among patches is central to population dynamics in fragmented landscapes. Although saproxylic (=dead wood dependent) insects live in extremely fragmented forest ecosystems and comprise a significant proportion of the biodiversity therein, few studies have focused on dispersal of members in this group. We quantified the terrestrial movements of Odontotaenius disjunctus Illiger, a common saproxylic beetle in eastern North American forests. Movement behavior of individual beetles was measured in deciduous forest and two common matrix (=unsuitable) habitats (urban lawn and cattle pasture). Probability of emigrating from a forest fragment was assessed at the high-contrast boundary between forest and pasture. Seasonal, diurnal, and sex-biased patterns of O. disjunctus dispersal were determined from captures at drift fences encircling inhabited logs. Movement was 1.6 and 2.7 times faster and 1.1 and 1.5 times more linear in suitable habitat (forest) than in unsuitable matrix (lawn and pasture, respectively). Net displacement in the forest exceeded predictions of a correlated random walk, but net displacement in matrix habitats was less than expected. When confronted with a high-contrast boundary, O. disjunctus was 14 times more likely to move toward the forest than the pasture. The importance of temperature was indicated by its positive relationship with movement rate and increased diurnal and warm season dispersal activity. Reluctance to cross boundaries into open fields and slow movement within open fields suggest a low likelihood of terrestrial O. disjunctus movement among forest fragments. © 2009 Entomological Society of America.