Great Basin Naturalist


Dispersal characteristics were measured for a population of yucca weevils (Scyphophorus yuccae) in a plot consisting of flowering and nonflowering Yucca whipplei. We compared weevil dispersal to yucca distribution, phenology, and caudex temperature. We also compared weevil movement to wind patterns and time of day. Captured weevils were marked and released into both flowering and nonflowering home plants in the field. Distance traveled, weevil flight direction, and target plant characteristics were recorded. We found that yucca weevils moved only between 1600 h on the release day and 0600 h of the following day. We recorded movement from both nonflowering and old flowering (> 1/2 stalk had reached anthesis) yuccas to new flowering (> 1/2 stalk pre-anthesis) yuccas. The pattern of weevil movement did not match the pattern of flowering yuccas in the field. Yucca weevils moved a mean distance of 33 ± 8 m. Caudex temperature appeared to be important to maintain a population of weevils on a plant. Wind direction was the best predictor of weevil dispersal direction. Weevils consistently moved into the wind, suggesting that they are active fliers. Dispersal characteristics of the yucca weevil have implications for the evolution of the semelparous flowering strategy of Y. whipplei and S. yuccae life history.