Tree hollows offer an ideal niche for saproxylic insects in mature Mediterranean forests, where Diptera and Coleoptera are the richest groups. Co-occurrence is frequently observed among many species of both groups in these microhabitats, and some of these species have been considered to facilitate the presence of other species by acting as ecosystem engineers. One of the systems that is found in Mediterranean tree hollows is formed by cetonid (Coleoptera: Cetoniidae) and syrphid (Diptera: Syrphidae) larvae. Here, cetonid larvae feed on wood and litter and produce a substrate that is easier to decompose. To assess the possible role of these larvae as facilitating agents for the saproxylic guild, we studied whether the presence of saprophagous Syrphidae inside tree hollows is associated with the activity of cetonid larvae. Furthermore, in laboratory conditions, we tested whether cetonid larvae activity can improve the development and fitness of the saprophagous syrphid species. Our results show that “cetonid activity” was the variable that best explained the presence of saprophagous syrphid species in natural conditions. Myathropa florea (L., 1758) was one of the species most influenced by this activity. The laboratory experiment gave similar results, demonstrating that an enriched substrate with Cetonia aurataeformis Curti, 1913 larval feces improves syrphid larval growth rate and fitness of adults (measured as longer wing length) of M. florea.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2