Do properties and species of weed seeds affect their consumption by carabid beetles?

Keywords: Carabid beetle, weed seeds, preference, imbibed seeds, seed predator, granivory


Seed predators are an integral part of agroecosystems, where they can reduce the populations of weeds. The preference of predators for seeds and the observed predation rate may be affected by the properties of seeds (e.g. taxonomy, chemical composition, physical defence). In this work, we focused on seed consumption of Taraxacum officinale Web. and Stellaria media (L.) Vill., from France and the Czech Republic, by three species of ground beetle that are seed predators (Coleoptera: Carabidae): Poecilus cupreus (Linnaeus), Pterostichus melanarius (Illiger) and Anchomenus dorsalis (Pontoppidan). The seed species were offered in arenas, simultaneously, under three different experimental manipulations of moisture and seed coat conditions: dry and intact, water-imbibed and intact, and water-imbibed with a damaged seed coat. Seed consumption was checked after 0.5, 1, 2, 24, and 48 hours of exposure. Anchomenus dorsalis largely refused to feed on seeds. Taraxacum officinale seeds with damaged coats were most preferred by the remaining two species of carabids. The consumption by P. cupreus of T. officinale seeds with damaged coats increased from 0.18 % after 0.5 hours to 83.83 % after 48 hours, and by P. melanarius from 13.76 % after 0.5 hours to 76.77 % after 48 hours. Seeds of S. media were consumed less. There was a significant difference in consumption rates due to the country of origin of the seeds, but there were no differences between the carabid sexes. That carabids preferred water-imbibed and damaged seeds may suggest an involvement of olfactory clues in the seed selection process, and/or shorter seed-handling times.