Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 325-336, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.042

A synthesis of feeding habits and reproduction rhythm in Italian seed-feeding ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae)

Federica TALARICO1, Anita GIGLIO2, Roberto PIZZOLOTTO2, Pietro BRANDMAYR2
1 Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden, University of Calabria, 87036 Calabria, Italy; e-mail: federica.talarico@unical.it
2 Department of Biology, Ecology and Earth Science (DiBEST), University of Calabria, 87036 Calabria Italy; e-mails: anita.giglio@unical.it, piz@unical.it, brandmayr@unical.it

Many species of carabid beetles are important pre- and post-dispersal seed feeders of herbaceous plants. Here we summarise data from dissections, field observations, rearing and "cafeteria" experiments on 55 granivorous and 188 omnivorous species that occur in Italy. We tested the hypothesis that seed feeding carabids are restricted to taxa with pronounced morphological adaptations for manipulating and crushing seeds in both the larval and adult stages. The feeding guilds of carabids were rearranged into the following groups: (i) strict predators with long mandibles and predaceous larvae, often depending also on non-prey food; (ii) omnivorous species with stout mandibles and larvae of a seed-eating morphotype; (iii) granivorous species, feeding only on seeds with larvae sometimes of the scarabeoid c-form type. The seed feeding carabids in the Italian fauna belong to the tribe Zabrini (Amara and Zabrus genera) and to all the Harpalinae (sub)tribes, from Anisodactylini to Ditomina. The time of reproduction seems to be associated with habitat preference; wetland or dry open land, rather than true granivorous versus omnivorous habits, but in stenophagous seed feeders, a phenological coincidence with particular plants is sometimes recorded.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Carabidae, food choice, omnivorous, granivorous ground beetles

Received: July 30, 2015; Accepted: March 29, 2016; Published online: April 22, 2016

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