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Keywords:

  • Conservation;
  • dispersal;
  • egg number;
  • egg size;
  • flight duration;
  • flight muscles;
  • flight willingness;
  • migration

Abstract. 1. Life-history traits associated with colonisation ability were compared in the threatened tenebrionid beetle Oplocephala haemorrhoidalis and its common relative Bolitophagus reticulatus. Both species feed and breed exclusively in fruiting bodies of the wood-decaying fungus Fomes fomentarius.

2. The presence and status of flight wings, flight muscles, and mature eggs were determined by dissection. Flight willingness was studied in a field experiment, and flight duration in a flight-mill experiment.

3. Females of O. haemorrhoidalis had fewer but larger eggs in their abdomen than B. reticulatus females.

4. All beetles of both species had fully developed flight wings but a larger proportion of B. reticulatus than O. haemorrhoidalis had developed flight muscles.

5. Bolitophagus reticulatus was more willing to take off than O. haemorrhoidalis, however both species, especially O. haemorrhoidalis, were powerful fliers, with many individuals being able to fly several kilometres. Oplocephala haemorrhoidalis tended to make few flights of long duration whereas B. reticulatus made several, but mostly shorter, flights.

6. The results indicate that B. reticulatus has a suite of life-history traits that makes it better adapted than O. haemorrhoidalis to exploit the scattered trees with fruiting bodies present in managed forests. This may explain why O. haemorrhoidalis is restricted primarily to sites with a high density of suitable substrates that have been available continuously for a long time.