Behavior and Aquatic Plants as Factors Affecting Predation By Three Species of Larval Predaceous Diving Beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae)

Document Type


Publication Date



Biological Sciences


Predation among aquatic invertebrate predators can have important effects on patterns of exclusion and coexistence in aquatic habitats, especially if these predators also act as intraguild predators. Such patterns may be explained by variation in predator foraging mode and in the extent and overlap of habitat use. Predaceous diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) are abundant in isolated bodies of water and are effective predators on many aquatic organisms, including other dytiscids. The under-investigated role of hunting behavior and habitat use in altering outcomes of predation under different plant densities may offer insights into patterns of coexistence among larval dytiscids. I performed experiments that quantified behavior of larvae of three common genera of dytiscids that share common prey and then measured predation among genera in the presence or absence of aquatic plants. Behavioral analyses concluded that there were significant differences in foraging modes, with Dytiscus primarily exhibiting sit-and-wait tactics, Graphoderus engaging in active, open water searching, and Rhantus displaying combinations of these behaviors. Predation among larvae was common and occurred when predators were larger than the prey, with no indication of prey preference. Incidence of predation among generic combinations depended on the presence of plants and appeared to be related to behavioral differences among genera. The presence or absence of plants and differences in larval behavior may help to mitigate predation by reducing negative interactions in natural aquatic systems. These results have implications for IGP interactions and may be one of the explanations for the observed richness of this group of predators within aquatic habitats.

Publication Title






First Page


Last Page


Find in your library