Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Paper

How does a xylem-feeder maximize its fitness?

A. Walczyńska 

Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Krakow, Poland


The current case study concerns evaluation of the life history of an insect species living in a demanding habitat, namely a xylem-feeder Aredolpona rubra (Linnaeus) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) representing the wood-feeding guild. Growth rate, development time and body size at maturity were studied at different temperature regimes with discreteness of insect growth pattern, associated with moultings, taken into account. Moreover, the temperature effect on reproductive strategy of females was tested, and the general life history was compared with available data within the wood-feeding guild. The results show that: (i) the growth of A. rubra is slow but compensated by prolonged development; (ii) size dimorphism is probably caused by the longer development time of females; (iii) fecundity is at least partly determined by the temperature experienced during the egg-laying period; and (iv) interspecific comparisons reveal that the life strategy of a wood-feeder depends on the niche occupied within the tree, whilst its breeding strategy (whether capital or income) is controlled at a taxonomic level. Control of all the main life history traits at one time provided a unique opportunity to understand the selection pressures on A. rubra species. Moreover, comparison within a feeding guild broadens this context and identifies the sources of heterogeneity in the ‘inside-wood’ habitat. The knowledge so gathered may be applied to pest control in forestry science, as well as to the conservation of rare and endangered insect species living within trees.

(Accepted March 13 2012)

(Online publication July 10 2012)


  • Beetles;
  • Cerambycidae;
  • body size;
  • development;
  • growth;
  • temperature;
  • trees;
  • wood-feeding


Author for correspondence Fax: +48 126646912 E-mail: aleksandra.walczynska@uj.edu.pl