Eur. J. Entomol. 112 (3): 477-485, 2015 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2015.054

Evaluation of the diet of a carabid predator using fluorescent marking of prey

Jan OKROUHLIK1,2,3, Pavel FOLTAN1,2,3,*
1 Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branisovska 1760, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic; e-mail: jan.okrouhlik@prf.jcu.cz
2 i2LResearch Ltd., Lipova 1789/9, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic; e-mail: pavel@i2LResearch.com
3 Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Branisovska 31, 370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

We present a UV-fluorescent dye-based prey marking technique, using three different dyes, with later detection of the dyes in the guts of predators using a micro-plate fluorescent reader. By using this new method of detecting dyes based on their different excitation and emission characteristics it is possible to simultaneously screen 96 samples for multiple fluorescent-markers in less than 30 minutes. The marking is stable, cheap, non-toxic and had no effect on the choice of the carabid predator Pterostichus melanarius between marked and unmarked fly larvae (Musca domestica). Different fluorescent dyes provide variable detection intervals up to 100% detectability at 96 h post-ingestion by this predator. The simple marking, extraction and detection methods presented could be used in food web research to map individual trophic links and predator preference for different types of prey.

Keywords: Food web, prey marking, fluorescent dye, Coleoptera, Carabidae, Pterostichus melanarius, predator-prey interaction, gut content analysis

Received: October 3, 2014; Accepted: February 25, 2015; Prepublished online: March 20, 2015; Published: July 15, 2015

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