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Advances in the knowledge of the feeding ecology of Nyctelia circumundata Lesne (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) in northeastern Patagonia.
CHELI, G. H.; BISIGATO, A. J.; MARTÍNEZ, F. J.; MARTÍNEZ ROMÁN, N.; SAÍN, C. L.; CAMPANELLA, M. V.; FLORES, G. E.
Simposio; Fourth International Tenebrionoidea Symposium; 2016
Tenebrionidae is the most abundant coleopteran family inhabiting the northeastern Patagonia and Nyctelia circumundata Lesne is one of the most conspicuous darkling beetles in the region. Tenebrionids are typically considered as scavengers, nevertheless there are records of some species feeding on living plants. In this contribution, using laboratory bioassays (two-way choice tests), the feeding ecology of N. circumundata is studied asking the following questions: this beetle feeds on living plants? If it is true, it exhibits any feeding preference pattern? It would be able that this beetle consumes any invasive specie? Plant water stress could affect the food selectivity of this beetle? How chemical and physical plant attributes influence the food selection process? As a result N. circumundata feeds on living plant and exhibited a defined feeding preference pattern. Even consuming the invasive specie Diplotaxis tenuifolia (L.) DC., which has turned out to be the most consumed item. N. circumundata did not show preference by any water supply regimes. These results suggest that the classical feeding concept about tenebrionids would be modified. The preference pattern observed could be consequence of a complex interaction between plant energetic attributes, palatability and metabolic requirements. Probably the food selection process would be a hierarchical process where chemical attributes are taken into account for species selection and physical attributes for choosing individuals inside species. The fact that D. tenuifolia was a preferred item suggests the development of new interactions among native insects and invasive plants, which may bring about new ecological implications.