Preprint Article Version 4 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Predaceous Diving Beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) May Affect the Success of Amphibian Conservation Efforts

Version 1 : Received: 21 March 2019 / Approved: 25 March 2019 / Online: 25 March 2019 (09:48:18 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 27 March 2019 / Approved: 27 March 2019 / Online: 27 March 2019 (13:11:14 CET)
Version 4 : Received: 1 April 2019 / Approved: 2 April 2019 / Online: 2 April 2019 (15:25:57 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Aust. J. of Zool. 2019
DOI: 10.1071/ZO19039


The role of invertebrate predation in shaping vertebrate communities is often underestimated or overlooked, which has resulted in the lack of their recognition in conservation planning. This is evident with predaceous diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) which are often the top predator in many aquatic freshwater habitats. During weekly monitoring of a compensatory habitat reintroduction for an endangered frog species, a group of a dozen adult diving beetles were encountered attacking and quickly dismembering and consuming a tadpole. A single adult diving beetle was also discovered burrowing its head deep inside and consuming a tadpole approximately three to four times its size. Although Dytiscidae are known to occasionally consume vertebrates such as tadpoles, adults are typically considered scavengers, and this communal predatory behavior and feeding method have not been previously documented. Besides these interesting novel behaviors, these observations may have implications for amphibian conservation since management efforts are not typically concerned with naturally occurring ubiquitous threats such as those from small invertebrate predators, as it is rarely been observed in nature. However, this may be perhaps due to their ability to consume prey rapidly, especially if predating in groups. Although amphibian conservation plans expect some losses from natural predation, diving beetles may affect conservation efforts such as captive breeding and reintroductions with populations already on the threshold of extinction and where every individual critical to success.

Supplementary and Associated Material


compensatory habitat, frog, invertebrate, predation, reintroduction, tadpoles


BIOLOGY, Ecology

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