Environmentally vulnerable noble chafers exhibit unusual pheromone-mediated behaviour

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Harvey, D. J., Vuts, J., Hooper, A. M., Finch, P., Woodcock, C. M., Caulfield, J. C., Kadej, M., Smolis, A., Withall, D., Henshall, S., Pickett, J. A. and Birkett, M. A. 2018. Environmentally vulnerable noble chafers exhibit unusual pheromone-mediated behaviour. PLOS ONE. 13 (11), p. e0206526.

AuthorsHarvey, D. J., Vuts, J., Hooper, A. M., Finch, P., Woodcock, C. M., Caulfield, J. C., Kadej, M., Smolis, A., Withall, D., Henshall, S., Pickett, J. A. and Birkett, M. A.
Abstract

Conserving populations of environmentally vulnerable insect species requires a greater understanding of the factors that determine their abundance and distribution, which requires detailed knowledge of their population and community ecology. Chemical ecological tools such as pheromones can be used for non-destructive monitoring of scarab beetle populations, enabling European countries to detect and, in some cases, map the range of some of these species, proving a valuable technique for monitoring elusive saproxylic beetles. In this paper, we investigated the behavioural and chemical ecology of the noble chafer, Gnorimus nobilis L., a model insect species of conservation concern across a Europe-wide distribution, and a red-listed UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species. We identified a potential pheromone of adult beetles using electrophysiological recordings, behavioural measurements and field trials in the UK. Gnorimus nobilis is highly unusual in that although both sexes produce, at high metabolic cost, the natural product 2-propyl (E)-3-hexenoate, it only attracts males. This pattern of chemical signalling makes the classification of the compound, based on current semiochemical terminology, somewhat problematic, but in our view, it should be termed an aggregation pheromone as a consequence of the production pattern. Since both sexes emit it, but apparently only males respond positively to it, 2-propyl (E)-3-hexenoate may reflect an intermediate evolutionary stage towards developing into a sex-specific signal. From an applied perspective, our study provides a model for the non-invasive surveillance of cryptic vulnerable insect species, without the need for habitat searching or disturbance, and continuous human monitoring.

Keywordsbeetles; pheromones; forests; conservation science; volatile organic compounds; insect pheromones; animal antennae; animal behaviour
Year of Publication2018
JournalPLOS ONE
Journal citation13 (11), p. e0206526
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0206526
PubMed ID30383860
PubMed Central IDPMC6211686
Web address (URL)https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0206526
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Funder project or codeInnovative approaches to pest management
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Publisher's versionjournal.pone.0206526.pdf
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online01 Nov 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Oct 2018
Copyright licenseCC BY
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLOS)
ISSN1932-6203

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