Condition-dependent dispersal of a patchily distributed riparian ground beetle in response to disturbance

Adam Bates, Jonathan Sadler, AP Fowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)


In common with many habitat elements of riverine landscapes, exposed riverine sediments (ERS) are highly disturbed, naturally patchy and regularly distributed, whose specialists are strongly adapted to flood disturbance and loss of habitat due to succession. Investigations of dispersal in ERS habitats therefore provide an important contrast to the unnaturally fragmented, stable systems usually studied. The present investigation analysed the three interdependent stages of dispersal: (1) emigration, (2) inter-patch movement and (3) immigration of a common ERS specialised beetle, Bembidion atrocaeruleum (Stephens 1828) (Coleoptera, Carabidae), in a relatively unmodified section of river, using mark-resight methods. Dispersal was correlated with estimates of local population size and density, water level and patch quality in order to test for condition-dependent dispersal cues. Flood inundation of habitat was found to increase strongly the overall rate of dispersal, and the rate of emigration was significantly higher from patches that were heavily trampled by cattle. Strongly declining numbers of dispersers with distance suggested low dispersal rates during periods of low water level. Dispersal in response to habitat degradation by cattle trampling would likely lead to a higher overall population fitness than a random dispersal strategy. Dispersal distances were probably adapted to the underlying habitat landscape distribution, high-flow dispersal cues and ready means of long-distance dispersal through hydrochory. Species whose dispersal is adapted to the natural habitat distribution of riverine landscapes are likely to be strongly negatively affected by reduced flood frequency and intensity and habitat fragmentation through flow regulation or channelisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2006


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