July 9, 2010

Hunting for Tiger Beetles

post by Malena Vilchez, of the Peru research team

Typical ground beetles (Carabidae) are predators that actively seek their prey and can be found in every imaginal habitat in a forest, from the ground to the canopy. I am looking particularly for tiger beetles (a particular carabid subfamily, Cicindelinae; ~2100 species).  The colorful  fast-running adults are active diurnal hunters.

Tropical forests exhibit the greatest richness of tiger beetles in the world; Peru has 79 species recorded and about 35 species are known in our present site. Tiger beetles can be good indicators of the quality of a habitat, and their presence or absence and diversity are being used to measure the environmental impacts of different human activities in terrestrial ecosystems.

It is easy to locate tiger beetle adults as they search for prey or wait in quiet environments where human traffic is limited. A great place to locate them is the edges of rivers or running water where they often construct small dimple shelters or burrows for their larvae.  -Malena Vilchez

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The Biodiversity Institute is home to about 60 graduate students and 30 research scientists and curators. They participate in field expeditions to all seven continents and represent areas such as entomology, ornithology, paleontology, parasitology and herpetology. As the authors of this blog, they share their experiences and adventures in collections-based biological research all over the world.

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