Saturday, April 12, 2008

Burton Air Old School

CSIC researchers discovered the first species of beetle that eats acorns Saving Forests


- The beetles bury the fruits of cork oaks

- The acorns are used as food and shelter in winter

( Image: A beetle of the species 'Thorectes lusitanicus' eating an acorn - Photo: CSIC)


MADRID .- A team of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in collaboration with the University of Alicante, was discovered in the Natural Park of the Acorns in Cadiz first species of beetle could drag, eating and burying acorns from different Quercus species such as oaks, oaks.

Once buried, the beetles of the species 'Thorectes lusitanicus' begin to eat the acorns and sometimes take refuge in them during the winter. This behavior is unprecedented in a kind of habits dung facilitates the survival and germination of seeds and their protection against predators such as birds and rodents.

burial and germination

Because the beetles start consuming the far side of the embryo and acorns are not consumed at all, many seeds can generate new plants. "We still need to calculate what percentage of buried acorns are capable of generating new plants, and to know whether the variation in the rate of burial and germination depends on the composition of the vegetation and the presence of vertebrate herbivores," says Jorge Lobo, co-author .

According to laboratory and field studies conducted, this species of beetle seems to prefer oak acorns compared to other species of Quercus. "The preference for the fruits of cork is even greater than that against other resources typically used by the species, such as cow dung and rabbit," says Wolf.

essential fatty acids

The preference of this species of beetle from acorns appear to be due to the high fruit content of essential fatty acids. "Use of acorns in late autumn and winter is probably related to hibernation, the ovarian production and development of the species. Individuals fed on acorns showed higher activity rates, better and more developed eggs and greater resistance to cold, "the researchers explain.

Gender 'Thorectes' has 43 known species of beetles, of which 20 are in Ibero-Balearic territory, and 18 are endemic. These species are apterous (wingless), with a low dispersal ability, which explains the high number of species present in the Peninsula and vulnerability.


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