Moth assemblages in Costa Rica rain forest mirror small-scale topographic heterogeneity

Rabl, D., Gottsberger, B., Brehm, G., Hofhansl, F. ORCID:, & Fiedler, K. (2019). Moth assemblages in Costa Rica rain forest mirror small-scale topographic heterogeneity. Biotropica 10.1111/btp.12677.

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In many tropical lowland rain forests, topographic variation increases environmental heterogeneity, thus contributing to the extraordinary biodiversity of tropical lowland forests. While a growing number of studies have addressed effects of topographic differences on tropical insect communities at regional scales (e.g., along extensive elevational gradients), surprisingly little is known about topographic effects at smaller spatial scales. The present study investigates moth assemblages in a topographically heterogeneous lowland rain forest landscape, at distances of less than a few hundred meters, in the Golfo Dulce region (SW Costa Rica). Three moth lineages—Erebidae–Arctiinae (tiger and lichen moths), the bombycoid complex, and Geometridae (inchworm moths)—were examined by means of automatic light traps in three different forest types: creek forest, slope forest, and ridge forest. Altogether, 6,543 individuals of 419 species were observed. Moth assemblages differed significantly between the three forest types regarding species richness, total abundance, and species composition. Moth richness and abundance increased more than fourfold and eightfold from creek over slope to ridge forest sites. All three taxonomic units showed identical biodiversity patterns, notwithstanding their strong differences in multiple eco‐morphological traits. An indicator species analysis revealed that most species identified as characteristic were associated either with the ridge forest alone or with ridge plus slope forests, but very few with the creek forest. Despite their mobility, local moth assemblages are highly differentially filtered from the same regional species pool. Hence, variation in environmental factors significantly affects assemblages of tropical moth species at small spatial scales.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: abundance; Central America; forest types; herbivore insect assemblages; orographic heterogeneity; species diversity; species richness
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2019 05:47
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:31

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