Institut für Biologie der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


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Erforschung biologischer Ressourcen der Mongolei (2012) band 12: 251-266. Results of the Mongolian-German Biological Expeditions since 1962, No. 318.


Copyright 2012, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle Wittenberg, Halle (Saale). Used by permission.


One of the most conspicuous detrito- and phytodetritophagous groups of beetles in the Asian steppes and deserts is the family Tenebrionidae (Coleoptera, Polyphaga) (KONSTANTINOV et al. 2009). Mongolia harbors a rich diversity of these beetles with 215 species and 50 genera of Tenebrionidae listed for the country (MEDVEDEV 1990), many of them restricted to its arid parts, where they obtain high abundances and dominate – together with ants – the insect soil fauna (PFEIFFER et al. 2003). Their dark color may be a means to withstand the high radiation at daytime; however, a large number of species is night active and hide during the day in burrows or under sand. Some of the African species are known to be subsocial and even exhibit division of labor (RASA 1990), but information on the biology of the Asiatic species is scattered and rare. A lot of knowledge on the Tenebrionidae of Mongolia is based on the various expeditions of the famous Hungarian entomologist Dr. Kas zab, who was a taxonomic specialist for these beetles (KASZAB 1965, 1967, 1977). His research was continued by Medvedev (MEDVEDEV & KASZAB 1973, MEDVEDEV & LOBANOV 1990), who developed a key to the Mongolian Tenebrionidae (MEDVEDEV 1990), thus enabling further studies on the ecology of the species.

While the community ecology of darkling beetles has been studied in several arid regions of the world (STAPP 1997, BLAUM et al. 2009), especially in Israel (KRASNOV & SHENBROT 1996, 1998) and in the Mediterranean (FATTORINI 2006, 2010), little is known about the central Asian region. SAGDY (1996), investigated community pattern of Tenebrionidae in the Ubsunur Hollow Preserve in Tuva, but nothing is known on the ecological communities of the species rich Mongolian fauna.