Spotlight on the invasion of a carabid beetle on an oceanic island over a 105-year period island
The flightless beetle Merizodus soledadinus, native to the Falkland Islands and southern South America, was introduced to the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen Islands in the early Twentieth Century. Using available literature data, in addition to collecting more than 2000 new survey (presence/absence) records of M. soledadinus over the 1991–2018 period, we confirmed the best estimate of the introduction date of M. soledadinus to the archipelago, and tracked subsequent changes in its abundance and geographical distribution. The range expansion of this flightless insect was initially slow, but has accelerated over the past 2 decades, in parallel with increased local abundance. Human activities may have facilitated further local colonization by M. soledadinus, which is now widespread in the eastern part of the archipelago. This predatory insect is a major threat to the native invertebrate fauna, in particular to the endemic wingless flies Anatalanta aptera and Calycopteryx moseleyi which can be locally eliminated by the beetle. Our distribution data also suggest an accelerating role of climate change in the range expansion of M. soledadinus, with populations now thriving in low altitude habitats. Considering that no control measures, let alone eradication, are practicable, it is essential to limit any further local range expansion of this aggressively invasive insect through human assistance. This study confirms the crucial importance of long term biosurveillance for the detection and monitoring of non-native species and the timely implementation of control measures.
Authors: Lebouvier, Marc, Lambret, Philippe, Garnier, Alexia, Convey, Peter ORCID record for Peter Convey, Frenot, Yves, Vernon, Philippe, Renault, David