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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2003

Air sampling of its pheromone to monitor the occurrence of Osmoderma eremita, a threatened beetle inhabiting hollow trees

Svensson, Glenn P.; Larsson, Mattias; Hedin, Jonas


Osmoderma eremita is a threatened scarab beetle living in the hollows of old deciduous trees and is regarded as an umbrella species of the beetle fauna associated with this habitat. Several methods like pitfall trapping and wood mould sampling have been used to monitor the occurrence of O. eremita, but these methods cannot be applied for trees with certain characteristics. Recently, (R)-(+)-gamma-decalactone was identified as a male-produced sex pheromone of the species. Here, we show that gamma-decalactone can be detected in hollow trees by air sampling and that the presence of the compound is strongly correlated with the occurrence of living male beetles in the same trees. Air was sampled from tree cavities and extracts analysed using gas chromatography-and mass spectrometry. There was a 89% match between the detection of gamma-decalactone in extracts and the occurrence of male O. eremita +/- 2 days from the sampling event. In the absence of males, samples never contained gamma-decalactone, and the presence of this compound in a tree cavity appears to be a good predictor of O. eremita occupancy. Air sampling can be a useful complement to other methods when trying to detect as many trees housing this beetle as possible, which is crucial when estimating populations sizes and developing conservation strategies for this species.


Air sampling; Conservation; Osmoderma eremita; Pheromone; Scarabaeidae

Published in

Journal of Insect Conservation
2003, volume: 7, number: 4, pages: 189-198
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Svensson, Glenn P.
Lund University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Science
Hedin, Jonas
Lund University

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