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Patterns of abundance and movement in relation to landscape structure: a study of a common scarab (Canthon cyanellus cyanellus) in Southern Mexico

Landscape Ecology


Few relevant data are available to analyze how landscape features affect the abundance and movement patterns of tropical insects. We used mark-release-recapture techniques to study the effects of landscape structure and composition on habitat preferences and movements of Canthon cyanellus cyanellus individuals, within a complex tropical deciduous forest landscape in South Mexico during 2004 and 2005. In total, 2,460 individuals of C. c. cyanellus were captured, including 1,225 females and 1,235 males, out of which 124 individuals (65 females and 59 males) were recaptured once, and 9 individuals (seven females and two males) were recaptured twice. The abundance of individuals was equally high in large forest fragments, small forest fragments and hedgerows, but the abundance in pastures was less than half of the abundance in the other habitat types. To disentangle the movement behaviour of the species from the spatially and temporally varying sampling effort, we applied a Bayesian state-space modelling framework with a diffusion based movement model. Males showed generally faster movement rate than females, and they moved faster within forests and hedgerows than within pastures. Contrary to the assumption of the diffusion model, individuals did not move in a continuous fashion, indicated by the large fraction of individuals that were recaptured in the site of release. However, the posterior predictive data did not deviate substantially from the real data in terms of the mean and maximum movement distances recorded, and in terms of the dependence of movement distance on time between captures. Our results suggest that an important component of the biota in Mexican agro-pasture landscapes can utilize contemporary landscape elements such as hedgerows or small forest fragments in addition to large fragments of remnant habitat. These habitats are still locally common in semi-natural ecosystems and require less intensive conservation management.

Author(s): Arellano, L; Leon-Cortes, JL; Ovaskainen, O

Journal: Landscape Ecology

Year: 2008