LOEWE Zentrum für
& Bioressourcen

Seminar announcement 3rd September 2014

Dr. Rüdiger Plarre

Perfectly adapted to the synanthropic environment

Rudy Plarre

BAM – Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung

Numerous insect species most of them beetles and moths have the ecological potential to feed and successfully breed on dried material of plant or animal origin. Economically they are regarded as pest insects because they are frequently encountered in stored products, wooden construction materials, clothings and other commodities made of biogenic material.

Insects species capable of surviving in dry commodities generally have some biological strategies in common: Most of them have a wide range of tolerance for physical factors in the environment and are food opportunists, they can survive a long time without food, and have a high reproductive rate at optimal conditions exploiting resources maximally. Their broad natural distributions are favored by a wide range of original breeding sites like dead wood or sheltered niches where seeds and nesting materials are gathered by other animals (rodents or birds e.g.), where they feed on botanicals, hairs, feathers, feces, and food debris, including carrion brought in or left by the previous occupants.

In this seminar it will discuss whether the obvious adaptations to human-made environments might be a result of preadaptations with selection towards a life-form type“stoage- or material-pest”, or if the synanthropic ecosystems simply resemble enlarged natural reservoirs. Examples of ecological and behavioral predispositions, adaptations as well as distribution and mating strategies of selected pest species (Old House Borer, Clothes Moth, Granary Weevil) will be presented to reconstruct phylogentic and evolutionary events that made it possible for insects to shift from an original or primary habitat to a relatively recent, human-made habitat. Autecological, faunistic, archaeological and historical evidences of pests origin and spread in conjunction with early agriculture will be included.

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