Nav: Home

Unusual rhino beetle behavior discovered

June 21, 2010

Russ Campbell, Guam's territorial entomologist and Aubrey Moore, UOG extension entomologist, welcomed New Zealand scientist, Trevor Jackson to Guam in early June. Jackson was invited to assist in the release of a virus into the rhino beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) population. This virus only infects rhino beetles and it has been successful in controlling populations of the pest on other Pacific islands.

The virus is naturally occurring in Malaysia and is produced in a New Zealand laboratory. It is dispersed using autodissemination: adult beetles are fed a solution of the virus, become infected, and then they are released to infect the resident population. This method of bio-control has been successfully used in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Palau and other Pacific islands where the rhino beetle was accidentally introduced. It will take several months to see the results. "The bio-control agent will not completely eradicate the CRB, but it will help to keep it under control," says Moore.

Aubrey Moore and his assistant Bob Bourgeois are been rearing rhino beetles individually in mason jars in order to have healthy beetles to infect with the virus. Hungry beetles are taken to the Guam Plant Inspection Facility, fed the virus, and then strategically released into island rhino populations. Once the beetles are infected, the virus damages their stomach walls causing them to stop eating.

During Jackson's visit the team discovered unusual rhino beetle behavior: the beetles were not breeding on the ground in decayed logs as normal; they were breeding in the detritus trapped in the tree branches. In cutting down 11 large coconut palms they found a complete ecosystem in the crowns including brown tree snakes, crabs, and, unfortunately, all life stages of rhinoceros beetles, from eggs to larva to young adults. This new discovery makes the release of the bio-control virus even more vital. Moore thinks this arboreal breeding behavior, seen only on Guam, may be due to the fact that the brown tree snake has wiped out most of Guam's rats. Elsewhere, rats love to live in coconut crowns, and they love to eat rhino beetle grubs.

This never-before-seen rhino beetle behavior of breeding in the crowns of coconut trees underscores an important point of invasive species on small islands. Their impact is often severe because there are no natural enemies, such as predators, parasites, or diseases, to control their population growth.
-end-


University of Guam

Related Invasive Species Articles:

'Trojan fish': Invasive rabbitfish spread invasive species
For some time, unicellular benthic organisms from the Indo-Pacific have been spreading in the Mediterranean.
New York schools help Cornell monitor local waterways for invasive species
With 7,600 lakes and 70,000 miles of creeks and rivers to monitor, Cornell researchers struggled to stay ahead of round goby and other invasive species -- until they tapped into New York's network of teachers looking to bring science alive for their students.
Documenting the risk of invasive species worldwide
In the first global analysis of environmental risk from invasive alien species, researchers say one sixth of the world's lands are 'highly vulnerable' to invasion, including 'substantial areas in developing countries and biodiversity hotspots.' The study by biogeographer Bethany Bradley at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Regan Early at the University of Exeter, UK, with others, appears in the current issue of Nature Communications.
Invasive species could cause billions in damages to agriculture
Invasive insects and pathogens could be a multi-billion- dollar threat to global agriculture and developing countries may be the biggest target, according to a team of international researchers.
Entomological Society of America releases statement on the dangers of invasive species
The Entomological Society of America has issued a statement about the dangers of invasive species and the potential threats they pose to US national interests by undermining food security, trade agreements, forest health, ecosystem services, environmental quality, and public health and recreation.
Invasive species not best conservation tool: Study
Harnessing an invasive fish species sounded like a promising conservation tool to help reverse the destruction wreaked by zebra mussels on endangered native mollusks in the Great Lakes -- except that it won't work, says a University of Guelph ecologist.
Invasive water frogs too dominant for native species
In the past two decades, water frogs have spread rapidly in Central Europe.
Queen's University in new partnership to fight against invasive species
The rapid spread of invasive species across Europe, which currently threatens native plants and animals at a cost of €12 billion each year, is to face a major new barrier.
A DNA analysis of ballast water detects invasive species
The German research vessel Polarstern covers thousands of kilometers in search of samples of biological material.
Invasive freshwater species in Europe's lakes and rivers: How do they come in?
A JRC-led article has identified escape from aquaculture facilities, releases in the wild due to pet/aquarium trade and stocking activities as the main pathways of alien species introduction in European lakes and rivers.

Related Invasive Species Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.