Stag beetle throws girlfriend out of tree


This 16 March 2020 video says about itself:

Stag Beetle Throws Girlfriend Out Of Tree | Life | BBC Earth

It’s not easy finding a girlfriend these days, and it’s no different for this stag beetle. He doesn’t seem too concerned about commitment, though.

Dinosaur age beetle pollination of flowers


This 16 August 2018 video says about itself:

Beetle Found In Ancient Amber Was Early Pollinator

Gizmodo reports an amazing Cretaceous Period beetle has been found in amber with bits of pollen around it.

The pollen suggests they first emerged during the Middle Triassic.

This kind of evidence is extremely rare to find.

Early pollinating insects were paired with non-flowering plants.

This means that beetle pollination of cycads evolved before the breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent during the Early Jurassic 167 million years ago.

From the University of Bonn in Germany:

Beetles changed their diet during the Cretaceous period

International team decodes 99 million-year-old amber fossils

March 18, 2020

Like a snapshot, amber preserves bygone worlds. An international team of paleontologists from the University of Bonn has now described four new beetle species in fossilized tree resin from Myanmar, which belong to the Kateretidae family. They still exist today, with only a few species. As well as the about 99 million years old insects, the amber also includes pollen. It seems that the beetles helped the flowering plants to victory, because they contributed to their propagation. In turn, the beetles benefited from the new food source. The results have now been published in the journal “iScience”.

The researchers have described the new beetle species using specimens in four amber pieces from Myanmar (previously known as Burma). The pieces are estimated to be 99 million years old and date from the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs were a rich and diverse group. Two of the pieces are in the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona (Spain), while the other two specimens are kept in the Institute of Geology and Palaeontology in Nanjing (China).

“Although Myanmar surprises us time and again with finds of great scientific importance, amber pieces containing numerous organisms are not often found there,” says project leader Dr. David Peris, who comes from Spain and is a postdoc at the Institute for Geosciences at the University of Bonn with an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s fellowship. He carried out the project with scientists from the USA, Spain, Germany, China and the Czech Republic.

Three of the examined amber pieces contained numerous beetles, while the fourth piece contained only one specimen of this family. Many pollen grains of different groups of seed plants, some of them long extinct, have been preserved with the beetles in the tree resin. Peris: “This close association suggests that the grains were distributed in the viscous lump of resin by the movement of the beetles.”

The beetle family still exists today

The Kateretidae are a small family of beetles with less than 100 described modern species that today live in South America and other temperate and subtropical regions. The species of this family feed on pollen and flower parts. Due to their dietary habits, they are nowadays regarded as pollinators of flowering plants (angiosperms). But in the middle Cretaceous period their rapid development had just begun. Previously, the Earth was colonized by gymnosperms, literally meaning “naked seeds”, which also includes our conifers. “The most important aspect of this study is that the pollen grains in three of the amber pieces do not belong to flowering plants,” says Peris. The pollen grains on the beetle of the fourth piece of amber, however, come from a water lily, a group of very primitive angiosperms that emerged at an early stage.

Living together for mutual benefit

There are other pollinating insects in amber, but almost all of them concern gymnosperms. When flowering plants (angiosperms) began their early development, they represented a new resource that was used by the Kateretidae. The beetles adapted quickly and formed a mutually beneficial symbiosis: The flowering plants served the beetles as a food source and these animals contributed to the propagation of the new angiosperms by pollination.

In earlier studies, it was speculated that the beetles might belong to the insect groups that pollinated the earliest flowers. Some of these animals had developed the ability to pollinate gymnosperms well before the appearance of angiosperms. “Our study supports this hypothesis of significant host plant relocation, as there are no Kateretidae associated with gymnosperms today,” says Peris. Adapting to the new resource has proven to be an evolutionary advantage.

How burying beetles raise their offspring


This 2019 video says about itself:

A beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides) finds a dead shrew. He takes the shrew and feeds his larvae. Finally, the larvae pupate and a new generation arises. 3 weeks compressed in 4 minutes.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Older beetle parents ‘less flexible’

March 6, 2020

Older parents are less flexible when it comes to raising their offspring, according to a new study of beetles.

University of Exeter scientists studied a species of burying beetle which raises its young on carcasses of small animals such as mice or birds.

They found that younger females adapted the number and total weight of offspring, and the effort they put into caring for them, based on the size of the carcass (smaller carcasses mean less food is available).

Meanwhile, older females largely ignored the conditions and put consistently high effort into reproduction.

“Being flexible can help organisms adapt to rapid changes in their environment,” said Dr Nick Royle, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“It makes sense to produce more offspring when food is plentiful, and less when it’s scarce.

“However, such flexibility takes effort and energy.

“So, for older beetles that may not get the chance to breed again, the best strategy might be to invest everything you have, regardless of the situation.”

Like baby birds, young burying beetles beg to their parents for food and are fed by regurgitation in return.

The researchers varied the size of carcass available to the beetles to see how mothers responded.

Young mothers showed restraint — when less food was available, they saved resources for future reproduction — while the effort put in by older mothers was largely unaffected by the size of the carcass available.

Dr Royle said: “Parental care is hard work — it is costly — so it makes sense not to expend more energy than is necessary if there is a good chance you will get an opportunity to breed again.

“That is what the younger mothers are doing here — protecting assets for future reproductive opportunities by not engaging in high-risk behaviours.

“Flexibility is the key to this.

“But for older mothers, the chance of them breeding again is less likely so it is better to just go for it now as they might not have a future.”

He added: “To our knowledge, this is the first time such age-dependent plasticity (flexibility) in parental care has been shown.

“It helps us to understand why there is such variation in plasticity in the natural world and how this can help organisms adapt to changes in their environment.

“Being plastic is good for burying beetles, but only when they are young.”

New snail species named after Greta Thunberg


This 20 February 2020 video says about itself:

Greta Thunberg snail

A new to science species of land snail was discovered by a group of citizen scientists working together with scientists from Taxon Expeditions, a company that organizes scientific field trips for teams consisting of both scientists and laypeople. Having conducted a vote on how to name the species, the expedition participants and the local staff of the National Park together decided to name the mollusk Craspedotropis gretathunbergae. The species name honors the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg for her efforts to raise awareness about climate change. The study is published in the open access journal Biodiversity Data Journal.

This tiny snail was discovered in Kuala Belalong rainforest, Brunei in Borneo island.

Thunberg told she was “delighted” that the snail had been named after her.

Earlier, a newly discovered small Kenyan beetle species had been named after Ms Thunberg.

This video from Britain is called Beetle named after climate activist Greta Thunberg (1) (UK/Global) ITV & BBC News 25/26 October 2019.

Will fireflies become extinct?


This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Each year in late spring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts a special light show, thanks to a species of beetle native to the region. These are the synchronous fireflies, known for coordinating their flashes into bursts that ripple through a group of the insects. As with other fireflies, their yellowish glow helps potential mates find one another.

From Tufts University in the USA:

Lights out? Fireflies face extinction threats of habitat loss, light pollution, pesticides

February 4, 2020

Habitat loss, pesticide use and, surprisingly, artificial light are the three most serious threats endangering fireflies across the globe, raising the spectre of extinction for certain species and related impacts on biodiversity and ecotourism, according to a Tufts University-led team of biologists associated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Fireflies belong to a widespread and economically important insect group, with more than 2,000 different species spread out across the globe. To better understand what threats are faced by fireflies, the team led by Sara Lewis, professor of biology at Tufts University, surveyed firefly experts around the world to size up the most prominent threats to survival for their local species.

Their perspective piece, published today in Bioscience, sounds a warning bell about the insects’ future, highlighting specific threats and the vulnerability of different species across geographical regions.

According to survey respondents, habitat loss is the most critical threat to firefly survival in most geographic regions, followed by light pollution and pesticide use.

“Lots of wildlife species are declining because their habitat is shrinking,” said Lewis “so it wasn’t a huge surprise that habitat loss was considered the biggest threat. Some fireflies get hit especially hard when their habitat disappears because they need special conditions to complete their life cycle. For instance, one Malaysian firefly [Pteroptyx tener], famous for its synchronized flash displays, is a mangrove specialist.” As reported in the article, previous work has revealed drastic declines in this species following conversion of their mangrove habitat to palm oil plantations and aquaculture farms.

One surprising result that emerged from the survey was that, globally, light pollution was regarded as the second most serious threat to fireflies.

Artificial light at night has grown exponentially during the last century. “In addition to disrupting natural biorhythms — including our own — light pollution really messes up firefly mating rituals,” explained Avalon Owens, Ph.D. candidate in biology at Tufts and a co-author on the study. Many fireflies rely on bioluminescence to find and attract their mates, and previous work has shown that too much artificial light can interfere with these courtship exchanges. Switching to energy-efficient, overly bright LEDs is not helping. “Brighter isn’t necessarily better,” says Owens.

Firefly experts viewed the widespread agricultural use of pesticides as another key threat to firefly survival.

Most insecticide exposure occurs during larval stages, because juvenile fireflies spend up to two years living below ground or underwater. Insecticides such as organophosphates and neonicotinoids are designed to kill pests, yet they also have off-target effects on beneficial insects. While more research is needed, the evidence shows that many commonly used insecticides are harmful to fireflies.

A few studies have quantified firefly population declines, such as those seen in the tourist-attracting synchronous fireflies of Malaysia, and the glowworm Lampyris noctiluca in England. And numerous anecdotal reports suggest that many other firefly species across a wide range of habitats have also suffered recent declines. “However,” Lewis points out, “we really need better long-term data about firefly population trends — this is a place where citizen science efforts like Massachusetts Audubon’s Firefly Watch project can really help.”

The researchers also highlight risk factors that allow them to predict which species will be most vulnerable when faced with threats like habitat loss or light pollution. For instance, females of the Appalachian blue ghost firefly [Phausis reticulata] are flightless. “So when their habitat disappears, they can’t just pick up and move somewhere else,” explains co-author J. Michael Reed, professor of biology at Tufts. Yet the researchers remain optimistic about fireflies’ future. “Here in the U.S., we’re fortunate to have some robust species like the Big Dipper fireflies [Photinus pyralis],” notes Lewis. “Those guys can survive pretty much anywhere- and they’re beautiful, too.”

By illuminating these threats and evaluating the conservation status of firefly species around the world, researchers aim to preserve the magical lights of fireflies for future generations to enjoy. “Our goal is to make this knowledge available for land managers, policy makers, and firefly fans everywhere,” says co-author Sonny Wong of the Malaysian Nature Society. “We want to keep fireflies lighting up our nights for a long, long time.”

Why so many beetle species?


This 30 January 2020 video says about itself:

Why Are There So Many Beetles?

Beetles are the most diverse group of complex organisms on Earth, making up over 20% of all named animal species. One in five species on this planet is…a beetle. How did one group of organisms get THAT massive?

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