Eur. J. Entomol. 111 (4): 529-535, 2014 | 10.14411/eje.2014.058

Rarity of blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) in Southern Africa correlates with their phylogeny and trophic habits, but not body size

Monica PITZALIS1, Valentina AMORE1, Francesca MONTALTO1, Luca LUISELLI2, Marco A. BOLOGNA1
1 Dipartimento di Scienze, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Viale G. Marconi 446, 00146 Roma, Italy; e-mails: monica.pitzalis@uniroma3.it; valamore@bio.ucm.es; francescamontalto@hotmail.com; marco.bologna@uniroma3.it
2 Institute of Environmental Studies, DEMETRA, Via Olona 7, I-00198 Rome, Italy; Department of Applied and Environmental Biology, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt (Nigeria), and ENI s.p.a. Environmental Department (Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd.), via Lovanio 32, I-00198 Roma, Italy; e-mail: lucalui@iol.it

Ecologists have identified several correlates of biological rarity in animals. Among the various correlates identified so far, three are explored in this paper: (a) abundance is correlated with absolute body size in animals; (b) phylogenetically primitive taxa are overrepresented in samples of rare species; (c) more specialized species are rarer than less specialized species. Here we use Namibian blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) as a model system for exploring these issues. We used data from five field expeditions, which resulted in the identification of 891 beetles belonging to 76 species collected from 191 sites. 13% of the species accounted for over 50% of the individuals; 22% of all species were represented by singletons. Abundance patterns differed significantly among the different trophic categories, with non-pollinophagous (non-specialized) species being more abundant than weed-eaters and pollinophagous (specialized) species. Species of phylogenetically basal tribes were less abundant than those of more derived groups. Trophic category and phylogenesis did not have a synergic effect in determining the relative abundance of the species, and body size had no influence on their abundance.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Meloidae, biological rarity, southern Africa, xeric ecosystems

Received: November 18, 2013; Accepted: May 5, 2014; Prepublished online: August 13, 2014; Published: October 1, 2014

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