The effect of wind on foraging activity of the tenebrionid beetle Lepidochora discoidalis in the sand dunes of the Namib Desert

  • Shirley A Hanrahan
  • Wolfgang H Kirchner


The foraging activity of the tenebrionid beetle, Lepidochora discoidalis, was studied in the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. The surface activity of this beetle species was found to be correlated both with time of day and wind speed. Higher numbers were observed on the dune surface between 17:00-19:00 h when wind speeds were consistently higher than 9 m/s. Noise and vibrations in the dune sand were found to be highly dependent on wind speed. Wind blowing at speeds higher than 5 m/s lifts the surface sand grains and generates vibrations in the sand. The peak frequency of these vibrations is in the range of 700-1000 Hz. The vibrational amplitude at the peak frequency is on average 40 dB higher at those wind speeds when the beetles are active compared to lower wind speeds. The results indicate that wind is an important cue for these beetles and can be perceived by buried beetles through substrate vibrations.

S. Afr. J Zool. 1997,32(4)

Author Biographies

Shirley A Hanrahan
Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, WITS 2050, South Africa
Wolfgang H Kirchner
Fakultat fOr Biologie, Universitat Konstanz, Postfach 5560 M 657, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020