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Open-File Report 2014-1100

Influences of the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle (Diorhabda carinulata) on the Diet of Insectivorous Birds Along the Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado

By Sarah L. Puckett and Charles van Riper III


We examined the effects of a biologic control agent, the tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda carinulata), on native avifauna in southwestern Colorado, specifically, addressing whether and to what degree birds eat tamarisk leaf beetles. In 2010, we documented avian foraging behavior, characterized the arthropod community, sampled bird diets, and undertook an experiment to determine whether tamarisk leaf beetles are palatable to birds. We observed that tamarisk leaf beetles compose 24.0 percent (95-percent-confidence interval, 19.9-27.4 percent) and 35.4 percent (95-percent-confidence interval, 32.4-45.1 percent) of arthropod abundance and biomass in the study area, respectively. Birds ate few tamarisk leaf beetles, despite a superabundance of D. carinulata in the environment. The frequency of occurrence of tamarisk leaf beetles in bird diets was 2.1 percent (95-percent-confidence interval, 1.3- 2.9 percent) by abundance and 3.4 percent (95-percent-confidence interval, 2.6-4.2 percent) by biomass. Thus, tamarisk leaf beetles probably do not contribute significantly to the diets of birds in areas where biologic control of tamarisk is being applied.

First posted June 9, 2014

For additional information, contact:
SBSC staff, Southwest Biological Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2255 N. Gemini Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

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Suggested citation:

Puckett, S.L., and van Riper, III, C., 2014, Influences of the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle (Diorhabda carinulata) on the diet of insectivorous birds along the Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1100, 51 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)








References Cited

Appendix 1. Figures and Tables

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