Dung beetles of the Dutch Veluwe


This 15 September 2018 video is about dung beetles of the Dutch Veluwe region.

Michael de Vries made this video.

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Special beetle discovered on Texel island


This 2009 video from Slovakia is called Buprestis (Ancylocheira) novemmaculata novemmaculata, Linnaeus, 1767.

Warden Erik van der Spek on Texel island in the Netherlands reports today:

At the work shed of Staatsbosbeheer on Texel the jewel beetle Buprestis novemmaculata was found. Until now, this beetle was only known in the Netherlands from the Bergen and Schoorl dune forest, the first sighting there was in 1997. …

Presumably the closest natural population can be found in Alsace

in France.

Burying beetles’ parenting, new research


This 2012 National Geographic video says about itself:

Raising Kids in a Corpse? | World’s Weirdest

For the burying beetle, life starts out in both the cradle and the grave. These two beetles will bury the body of a shrew underground before laying their eggs inside it.

From the University of Edinburgh in Scotland:

Sharing parenting leads to healthier young, beetle study finds

August 1, 2018

Animals who share the task of parenting do a better job than parents who do so on their own, according to a study of insects.

Offspring raised by both parents grow to a healthier weight and are more likely to reach adulthood than those raised by one parent, research into beetles has found.

The research is the first to offer evidence of whether being raised by two parents has benefits for offspring. It could help explain why many species — including birds, mammals, fish and insects — have evolved to share the burden of nurturing their young.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh set out to examine whether care from two parents is greater than the sum of its parts, or if conflict between parents over their shared workload has a negative impact on their young.

In an experiment with burying beetles — which are acknowledged to be skilled parents — scientists examined how well pairs of adults compared with sole parents. Dozens of pairs of parents and single adult beetles were each given a brood to raise to adulthood, with single beetles given half as many young compared with the pairs.

Researchers found that young which were raised by both parents were better off — despite male beetles being seen to do less when working alongside their female partners.

Scientists say their finding supports the idea that co-parenting may help ensure animals can pass on their genes, in a trade-off against producing more young. In addition, both parents may pass on good bacteria to their young through close contact.

The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Dr Natalie Pilakouta of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: “We’ve shown that offspring grow better and are more likely to survive if reared by both parents. This might help explain why shared parenting has evolved in so many species of animals.”

Small beetle that lived with dinosaurs discovered in amber


Kekveus jason. The amber sample with the new beetle trapped inside -- the beetle is the tiny speck indicated by the tip of a mechanical pencil for scale. Credit: Shuhei Yamamoto, Field Museum

From the Field Museum in the USA:

Tiny paragliding beetle that lived with dinosaurs discovered in amber, named ‘Jason’

June 7, 2018

Featherwing beetles are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. They get their name from the feathery fringe on their wings that enables them to catch the air and float like dandelion seeds. And, it turns out, they go way back — scientists discovered a 99-million-year-old featherwing beetle preserved in amber, and they named it “Jason.”

“This tiny beetle lived during the Cretaceous Period, it saw actual dinosaurs“, says Shuhei Yamamoto, a researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago and co-lead author of a paper describing the beetle in Cretaceous Research. “The amber the beetle was found in is like a time capsule.”

The new beetle, the earliest member of its family to get a scientific name, is called Kekveus jason. “Jason” is a reference to the Greek hero who sailed the world in search of the Golden Fleece; “Kekveus”, meanwhile, doesn’t mean anything — co-lead author Vasily Grebennikov of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, picked it because new genus names for little-known fossils often wind up changing when the species is later reclassified as scientists learn more about it. “From my perspective I always believe that an animal name should not have any meaning (except when named after a person), since if the authors are wrong, it might be odd to have later species ‘chinensis‘ endemic to Europe, or something similarly absurd”, says Grebennikov.

Yamamoto discovered the tiny sailing insect by poring over pieces of amber. Amber is made from fossilized resin, a sap-like substance produced by plants. When prehistoric insects got trapped in resin, their bodies would get incorporated into the amber that formed — think the mosquitos from Jurassic Park, minus the “resurrecting dinosaurs” part.

When Yamamoto spotted a tiny black speck in the amber, he was cautiously optimistic that he’d found a prehistoric insect. “I didn’t have much confidence at first, but after cutting and polishing the amber so I could get a better look, I realized, oh, this is truly an amazing fossil”, he says.

The beetle is only 0.536 millimeters long — it’s dwarfed by the tip of a mechanical pencil. But under a microscope, Yamamoto was able to glean details of its anatomy that revealed it as a different species and genus from living featherwing beetles. For instance, it has three grooves running like pinstripes up its body, a feature not found on its modern cousins. Overall, though, the researchers found that K. jason has a lot in common with featherwings alive today, meaning that the family of beetles evolved features like a tiny body size and fringed wings millions of years ago. According to Yamamoto, amber fossils yield a level of preservation rarely found in regular rock, especially for insects. “There are many rock fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, but they’re limited to big animals like larger insects, mammals, dinosaurs, and birds, because small insects cannot be preserved in rock fossil very clearly. Only fossil insects in amber are preserved in fine detail, in three dimensions”, says Yamamoto. Yamamoto looks forward to further discoveries of prehistoric animals preserved in amber. “It’s likely that we’ll find more in the future — Burmese amber is one of the hottest fossils in the world,” he says. “There are so many great findings happening, literally day by day. Many important discoveries of insects will be made.”

Rare aquatic beetles in Wyoming, USA


Hygrotus sp. beetle, photo (c) James

From the University of Wyoming in the USA:

Rare aquatic beetles: Species distribution models guide field surveys

June 4, 2018

Summary: The known range of the narrow-footed Hygrotus diving beetle, which also can fly, is in central Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin and one site in the Wind River Basin. The sites are small, intermittent streams with disconnected pools and contain high concentrations of salt. These streams are in shortgrass prairie ecosystems that receive less than 400 millimeters of precipitation each year.

University of Wyoming researchers are shedding light on a rare aquatic beetle native only to central Wyoming.

Lusha Tronstad, lead invertebrate zoologist with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, a service and research unit housed at UW, says the narrow-footed Hygrotus diving beetle has been petitioned for Endangered Species Act listing three times in the past 11 years by Wild Earth Guardians, an activist group.

“We have no idea how many there are”, Tronstad says of the aquatic beetle she has studied since 2010. “We do know they have been found in 12 locations in central Wyoming and nowhere else in the world.”

Tronstad was lead author of a paper, titled “Using Species Distribution Models to Guide Field Surveys for an Apparently Rare Aquatic Beetle,” that was published June 4 in the online version of the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management and is expected to be in print later this month. The journal publishes manuscripts containing information from original research that contributes to basic wildlife science. Topics include investigations into the biology and ecology of wildlife and their habitats that have direct or indirect implications for wildlife management and conservation.

Kelsey Brown, a graduate student in UW’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, and Mark Andersen, information systems and services coordinator for the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, were co-authors of the paper.

Andersen created species distribution models, using such variables as how much sagebrush cover was available; soil conductivity, or how salty the soil is; air temperatures; and depth of groundwater at the sites.

“We used thesis models to predict suitable habitat for the beetles,” Tronstad says. “Using model results, we surveyed new sites across the state and discovered the beetle at one new location.”

This aquatic beetle was first discovered by Hugh Leech, a beetle expert, in 1964. Leech was driving along old Highway 85 near Midwest, according to Tronstad.

“He stopped and sampled Dugout Creek. Voila. He discovered a new species and published his work in 1966”, Tronstad says.

The known range of the diving beetle, which also can fly, is in central Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin and one site in the Wind River Basin. A site near Kaycee is the newest location where these insects have been discovered. The sites are small, intermittent streams with disconnected pools and contain high concentrations of salt. These streams are in shortgrass prairie ecosystems that receive less than 400 millimeters of precipitation each year, much of which is snow during spring.

Roughly 2.5 millimeters long, they are predators, feeding on mayflies, midges and other types of insects. Males are distinguished by large biceps on their front legs. They hibernate in the winter and reproduce during the summer, says Tronstad, who has conducted annual surveys of eight of the 12 known sites since 2010.

Aquatic beetles were collected in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to estimate the current distribution of the diving beetle in Wyoming, Tronstad says. Three streams — Dugout Creek, Dead Horse Creek and two locations in Cloud Creek — in the Powder River Basin were surveyed in July 2010. Tronstad says the group monitored statewide in 2011 and 2012. The group visited 511 sites and collected invertebrates from 246 sites over two summers.

“I usually walk up and down the streams,” Tronstad says of her summer research routine. “I sometimes find one stream where the beetle is living or a couple of streams.”

And, how do these beetles survive in these streams, which have a high concentration of salt?

“My guess is they can outcompete other invertebrates in these harsh, intermittent streams because they’re very, very salty”, Tronstad surmises. “The salts in the water make it difficult for other invertebrates to survive. Salt dehydrates. We think they have special mechanisms to deal with the salt.”

Models created predicted the diving beetles were more likely to be found in intermittent streams with a gentle gradient; shallow water table; variable precipitation patterns; high soil electrical conductivity; and in the warmest places in Wyoming.

“These streams will dry up into puddles during the summer,” she explains. “If we didn’t have any shallow groundwater in these intermittent streams, there probably wouldn’t be any habitat for them.”

Results suggest that maintaining the hydrologic integrity of prairie streams in Wyoming is vital to the conservation of the diving beetle, the paper says.

“What I will be doing next is looking at these finer variables to find out what is limiting their distribution,” Tronstad says. “I will be collecting information on cattle grazing and oil and gas, and how that might affect the sites.”

Beetlemania: How a supergroup scuttled to world domination. Handsome, hardy and diverse, beetles are supremely successful critters with a lot to teach us – but they’re suffering from our environmental waywardness: here.

A new study by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists and colleagues confirms that increasing minimum winter temperatures allow beetles to expand their range but reveals that overcrowding can put the brakes on population growth: here.