Evaluating the Influence of Habitat, Temporal, Snd Competitor Insect Co-Occurrence Variables on the Presence of Lady Beetle Species in Ohio
The Coccinellidae, or lady beetles, are a very economically important insect, voraciously preying upon crop pests such as aphids and thereby saving farmers and agriculturalists millions of dollars in pesticide costs each year. However, as exotic lady beetle species have been introduced to the United States in the last few decades, native lady beetle species have been mysteriously declining. To prevent the continued loss of native species, it is essential to better understand the biology and ecology of both native and exotic lady beetle species. In this study, data collected from the citizen science program the Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz was analyzed using logistic regression in an attempt to determine which, if any, predictor variables significantly influenced the presence or absence of seven different lady beetle species found in Ohio. These predictor variables were garden composition, garden size, sampling week, surrounding habitat, geographic location, and presence of other competitor insect species. The results of this analysis showed that each species differed in which variables were significantly predictive, but garden composition and the temporal variable of sampling week were most often significant. Exotic species differed not only from native species, but also from one another, as was the case with native species. While some of the relationships found in this analysis may provide insights into the biology and ecology of these different lady beetle species, many of the relationships do not have an easily interpretable biological explanation. Some adjustments to the data collected by the Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz in future years, as well as further studies, will be needed to accurately determine which factors are most important in determining when a specific lady beetle species will be found in an area.
© Copyright 2013 Bryn N. Lindeman