Use of simple remote sensing tools to expedite surveys for rare tiger beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera: Cicindelidae)

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Tiger beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera: Cicindelidae) often occupy small patches of suitable habitat in otherwise unsuitable landscapes. Such patches are easily overlooked, which may lead to underestimates of both the number of occurrences and the overall population size. In this study, simple World Wide Web-based tools (Google Earth and Microsoft Terraserver) were used to search high-resolution satellite imagery for patches of suitable habitat for globally and regionally rare tiger beetles on a 3,278 ha wildlife refuge in Maryland, USA. This tract is largely forested but contains scattered small open areas of sand and clay soils that are potential habitat for tiger beetles of conservation concern. Visual inspection of remotely sensed imagery resulted in the identification of 19 potential habitat patches, 15 of which yielded tiger beetle populations when surveyed on the ground. The number of species of tiger beetles recorded from this tract was increased from 3 to 8 and two new sites were discovered for the state sensitive species Cicindela scutellaris rugifrons Dejean. In addition, a small population of C. splendida Hentz was discovered, a species last reported from Maryland in 1948. The technique described here shows great promise for locating small patches of potential tiger beetle habitat in otherwise unsuitable landscapes.

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