Movement Ecology of Adult Western Corn Rootworm: Implications for Management

Thomas W. Sappington, Joseph L. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Movement of adult western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is of fundamental importance to this species’ population dynamics, ecology, evolution, and interactions with its environment, including cultivated cornfields. Realistic parameterization of dispersal components of models is needed to predict rates of range expansion, development, and spread of resistance to control measures and improve pest and resistance management strategies. However, a coherent understanding of western corn rootworm movement ecology has remained elusive because of conflicting evidence for both short- and long-distance lifetime dispersal, a type of dilemma observed in many species called Reid’s paradox. Attempts to resolve this paradox using population genetic strategies to estimate rates of gene flow over space likewise imply greater dispersal distances than direct observations of short-range movement suggest, a dilemma called Slatkin’s paradox. Based on the wide-array of available evidence, we present a conceptual model of adult western corn rootworm movement ecology under the premise it is a partially migratory species. We propose that rootworm populations consist of two behavioral phenotypes, resident and migrant. Both engage in local, appetitive flights, but only the migrant phenotype also makes non-appetitive migratory flights, resulting in observed patterns of bimodal dispersal distances and resolution of Reid’s and Slatkin’s paradoxes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number922
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Diabrotica virgifera virgifera
  • Reid’s paradox
  • Slatkin’s paradox
  • behavior
  • dispersal
  • flight
  • partial migration
  • ranging
  • resistance
  • station keeping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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