Alpine distribution of the disjunctly distributed arcto-boreal grasshopper Aeropedellus variegatus (Fischer von Waldheim, 1846) (Insecta: Orthoptera): new records for South Tyrol and an outlook on genetic studies targeting its biogeography.

Philipp Kirschner, Thomas Wilhalm & Petra Kranebitter

The genus Aeropedellus (Hebard 1935) currently comprises 22 nominal species, whereas all of them are typical elements of the Holarctic (Orthoptera Species File, accession date 12th November 2020). The largest part of these 22 species is occurring in the Asian
part of the Palearctic (20 species), while only two species are native to the Nearctic. The region harboring most Aeropedellus species worldwide is Northern China and Mongolia (15 species).
Only two species, Aeropedellus variegatus (Fischer von Waldheim, 1846) and Ae. volgensis (Predtechenskii, 1928) are occurring in Europe. While the latter is a xerophilic endemic of the steppe grasslands of the lower Volga basin (Bey-Bienko & Mishchenko
1951), Ae. variegatus has the widest distribution of all palearctic Aeropedellus species. As such, Ae. variegatus occurs from Northeastern Russia to Western Europe (Ebner 1951). Ebner (1951) critically evaluated the distribution of Ae. variegatus and found that the species occupies a more diverse set of habitats in its Northern distribution than would be expected for a purely arcto-boreal species. Given this, he concluded that the attribute „arcto-boreal distribution“ largely oversimplifies the species‘ complex ecology
and distribution in Asia, and he emphasized that Ae. variegatus has very strong ties to the xeric steppes of Asia. The species’ European distribution, on the other hand, reflects a classic arctic-alpine disjunction pattern (Schmitt et al. 2010).

Alpine grasshopper, biogeography, arcto-alpine distribution, faunistics

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