Eur. J. Entomol. 109 (3): 427-434, 2012 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2012.055

Ecology and life histories of two Alpine-Apenninic species of Velia (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Veliidae)

Fabio CIANFERONI1,2, Giacomo SANTINI1
1 Department of Evolutionary Biology "Leo Pardi", University of Florence, Via Romana 17, I-50125 Florence, Italy; e-mails: fabio.cianferoni@unifi.it; giacomo.santini@unifi.it
2 Natural History Museum of the University of Florence, Zoological Section "La Specola", Via Romana 17, I-50125 Florence, Italy

Velia currens (Fabricius, 1794) and V. gridellii Tamanini, 1947 are two South European species of Veliidae, whose ecology and behaviour are poorly known. The aims of this study were to investigate their life histories, quantify occurrence of wing polymorphism and gather information on their degree of co-occurrence. Nine different populations were regularly surveyed from April to November 2010. Furthermore, a dataset containing information on the occurrence of the two species and the presence of winged morphs at 294 sites was compiled from museum collections, private collections and published literature. No evidence for multivoltinism was detected in either species. However, oviposition and and/or hatching were protracted in time so that early-instar nymphs and adults co-occurred up to midsummer. Although their distributional ranges completely overlap at a large spatial scale, the two species co-occurred only rarely at the same sites and the degree of co-occurrence was lower than expected by chance. Winged specimens were rarely recorded. At least in V. gridellii, the numbers of winged individuals were inversely related to the altitudes of the sites. During the summer, when some of the streams surveyed dried up, several specimens were found in an apparent state of lethargy, under stones. It is hypothesized that the ability to aestivate, coupled with the ability to walk from one site to another may reduce the advantage associated with producing winged forms and account for the low rate of occurrence of macropterism in these species.

Keywords: Velia, Gerromorpha, wing polymorphism, co-occurrence, life history

Received: January 2, 2012; Accepted: March 9, 2012; Published: July 2, 2012

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