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Stratification and diel activity of arthropods in a lowland rainforest in Gabon

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Abstract:

The abundance, activity and species richness of arthropods, particularly of insect herbivores, were investigated in the upper canopy and understorey of a lowland rainforest at La Makandé, Gabon. In total 14 161 arthropods were collected with beating, flight interception and sticky traps, from six canopy sites, during the day and at night, from mid‐January to mid‐March 1999. The effects of stratum were most important, representing between 40 and 70% of the explained variance in arthropod distribution. Site effects represented between 20 and 40% of the variance and emphasized the néed for replication of sampling among canopy sites. Time effects (diel activity) explained a much lower percentage of variance (6–9%). The density and abundance of many arthropod taxa and species were significantly higher in the upper canopy than in the understorey. Arthropod activity was also higher during the day than at night. In particular, insect herbivores were 2.5 times more abundant and twice as speciose in the upper canopy than in the understorey, a probable response to the greater and more diverse food resources in the former stratum. Faunal overlap between the upper canopy and understorey was low. The most dissimilar herbivore communities foraged in the understorey at night and the upper canopy during the day. Further, a taxonomic study of a species‐rich genus of herbivore collected there (Agrilus, Coleoptera Buprestidae) confirmed that the fauna of the upper canopy was different, diverse and very poorly known in comparison to that of the understorey. Herbivore turnover between day and night was rather high in the upper canopy and no strong influx of insect herbivores from lower foliage to the upper canopy was detected at night. This suggests that insect herbivores of the upper canopy may be resident and well adapted to environmental conditions there.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2001.tb01340.x

Affiliations: 1: CIRAD, TA 40/02, Avenue dAgropolis, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France 2: Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Cascina Vigna, Cas. Post. 89, 10022, Carmagnola (TO), Italy 3: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 2072, Balboa, Ancon, Panama 4: Clos de Florette, 13320 Bouc-Bel-Air, France 5: 7 Chemin de I'Houle, 84820 Visan, France 6: Centre de Sante, 97340 Grand Santi, French Guiana 7: Universite de Montpellier II, Place Eugene Bataillon, 34000 Montpellier, France 8: c/o Biodiversity and Conservation Programme, ICIPE, P.O. Box 30772, Nairobi, Kenya

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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