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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Arthropod Distribution in a Tropical Rainforest: Tackling a Four Dimensional Puzzle

Basset, Yves; Cizek, Lukas; Cuenoud, Philippe; Didham, Raphael K; Novotny, Vojtech; Ödegaard, Frode; Roslin, Tomas; Tishechkin, Alexey K; Schmidl, Jürgen; Winchester, Neville N; Roubik, David W; Aberlenc, Henri-Pierre; Bail, Johannes; Barrios, Hector; Bridle, Jonathan R; Castanos-Menenes, Gabriela; Corbara, Bruno; Curletti, Gianfranco; Duarte da Rocha, Wesley; De Bakker, Domir;
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Quantifying the spatio-temporal distribution of arthropods in tropical rainforests represents a first step towards scrutinizing the global distribution of biodiversity on Earth. To date most studies have focused on narrow taxonomic groups or lack a design that allows partitioning of the components of diversity. Here, we consider an exceptionally large dataset (113,952 individuals representing 5,858 species), obtained from the San Lorenzo forest in Panama, where the phylogenetic breadth of arthropod taxa was surveyed using 14 protocols targeting the soil, litter, understory, lower and upper canopy habitats, replicated across seasons in 2003 and 2004. This dataset is used to explore the relative influence of horizontal, vertical and seasonal drivers of arthropod distribution in this forest. We considered arthropod abundance, observed and estimated species richness, additive decomposition of species richness, multiplicative partitioning of species diversity, variation in species composition, species turnover and guild structure as components of diversity. At the scale of our study (2km of distance, 40m in height and 400 days), the effects related to the vertical and seasonal dimensions were most important. Most adult arthropods were collected from the soil/litter or the upper canopy and species richness was highest in the canopy. We compared the distribution of arthropods and trees within our study system. Effects related to the seasonal dimension were stronger for arthropods than for trees. We conclude that: (1) models of beta diversity developed for tropical trees are unlikely to be applicable to tropical arthropods; (2) it is imperative that estimates of global biodiversity derived from mass collecting of arthropods in tropical rainforests embrace the strong vertical and seasonal partitioning observed here; and (3) given the high species turnover observed between seasons, global climate change may have severe consequences for rainforest arthropods.

Published in

2015, volume: 10, number: 12, article number: e0144110

Authors' information

Basset, Yves
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Cizek, Lukas
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice
Cuenoud, Philippe
Natural History Museum of Geneva
Didham, Raphael K
University of Western Australia
Novotny, Vojtech
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice
Ödegaard, Frode
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Tishechkin, Alexey K
National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.
Schmidl, Jürgen
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Winchester, Neville N
University of Victoria, Canada
Roubik, David W
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Aberlenc, Henri-Pierre
French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (Cirad)
Bail, Johannes
No organisation
Barrios, Hector
University of Panama
Bridle, Jonathan R
University of Bristol
Castanos-Menenes, Gabriela
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
Corbara, Bruno
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
Curletti, Gianfranco
Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Carmagnola
Duarte da Rocha, Wesley
Federal University of Minas Gerais
De Bakker, Domir
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
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