Iridescent dung beetles: A different angle

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1997
Authors:K. Vulinec
Journal:Florida Entomologist
Keywords:Animalia-, Animals-, Arthropoda-, Arthropods-, Behavior-, Coleoptera-: Insecta-, dung-beetle (Coleoptera-), Ecology- (Environmental-Sciences), Insects-, Integumentary-System (Chemical-Coordination-and-Homeostasis), Invertebrata-, Invertebrate, morphology-

Iridescence, in both the visible and ultraviolet (UV) spectra, is produced by various means and may serve several functions in different animals. In insects, such colors are often considered as anti-predator adaptations, either crypsis or aposematism, or a means of thermoregulation. A less explored alternative is social signaling. Iridescent colors are particularly useful in this context because they are brightest from certain directions and body orientation could be employed to direct a visual signal to particular receivers. In phanaeine dung beetles the head and prothoracic shield reflect a visible-light and UV iridescence that is best seen from a position facing the insect. The less iridescent male horn is silhouetted against the prothoracic shield. Since, horn size is indicative of male size, such a display may be directed to sexual competitors in agonistic interactions. Broad and reflective prothoracic surfaces on males might also be preferred by females choosing a mate, who will cooperate in future brood care, since they would make infestations of kleptoparasitic flies more obvious.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith