The diet of wireworms in arable land and its relationship to soil environmental conditions: A stable isotope analysis (FWF-Project P16676)

M. Traugott (PI), C. Pázmándi, K. Schallhart & A. Juen (co-PI)

The larvae of elaterid beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae) are called wireworms. Some wireworm species, especially those within the genus Agriotes, are quite serious pests, damaging a great variety of agricultural crops. It is assumed that soil environmental factors (e.g. soil humus and moisture content) and the availability of alternative plant food (weeds) are the driving factors which determine the wireworms’ dietary preferences. However, under field conditions little is known about these trophic relationships.

We use stable isotope analysis, for the first time, to investigate the dietary preferences of wireworms dwelling in agricultural land and to determine their trophic positions. Samples of wireworms and their putative feeding substrates have been gathered at various field sites in Central-Europe. The 13C and 15N signatures of these samples will then be used to disentangle the wireworms’ trophic links and positions. To interpret the isotopic signatures of the field-collected wireworms in a correct way, laboratory experiments are conducted to determine key features in the consumers’ isotopic enrichment.

Understanding the parameters which influence the food selection of click beetle larvae is of basic value to better understand the role of larval elaterid species in the soil food web. Furthermore, this knowledge is fundamental for the development of any technique to predict wireworm incidence, damage to crops, and for their control.


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