Walking behaviour in the ground beetle, Poecilus cupreus: dispersal potential, intermittency and individual variation

Bull Entomol Res. 2021 Apr;111(2):200-209. doi: 10.1017/S0007485320000565. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


Dispersal is a key ecological process affecting community dynamics and the maintenance of populations. There is increasing awareness of the need to understand individual dispersal potential to better inform population-level dispersal, allowing more accurate models of the spread of invasive and beneficial insects, aiding crop and pest management strategies. Here, fine-scale movements of Poecilus cupreus, an important agricultural carabid predator, were recorded using a locomotion compensator and key movement characteristics were quantified. Net displacement increased more rapidly than predicted by a simple correlated random walk model with near ballistic behaviour observed. Individuals displayed a latent ability to head on a constant bearing for protracted time periods, despite no clear evidence of a population level global orientation bias. Intermittent bouts of movement and non-movement were observed, with both the frequency and duration of bouts of movement varying at the inter- and intra-individual level. Variation in movement behaviour was observed at both the inter- and intra- individual level. Analysis suggests that individuals have the potential to rapidly disperse over a wider area than predicted by simple movement models parametrised at the population level. This highlights the importance of considering the role of individual variation when analysing movement and attempting to predict dispersal distances.

Keywords: Dispersal; dispersal potential; ground beetles; intermittency; path analysis; random walk.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Distribution*
  • Animals
  • Coleoptera / physiology*
  • Ecosystem
  • Insecta
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Population Dynamics
  • Walking / physiology