Microhabitat Utilization and the Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Rainforest Canopy Insects
Insect communities are an important focus of canopy biodiversity studies because insects encompass the greatest species richness and biomass of all canopy organisms, and they play important roles in ecosystem functioning, such as pollination, within forest canopies. The main focus of this study is to examine the spatial and temporal distribution of the insect community inhabiting and utilizing different microhabitats in the rainforest canopy. In particular, the insect faunas inhabiting mature leaves, new leaves, flowers, fruit and suspended dead wood will be sampled from 20 species of trees, vines, and palms over the course of one year using the Australian Canopy Crane at Cape Tribulation. The three main objectives of my study are:
To determine the density, diversity and host tree specificity of insects on different microhabitats
To determine the factors affecting the density, diversity and host specificity of insects on different host tree species
To determine the effect of resource availability on insect seasonality
Addressing these objectives is important for gaining a greater understanding of the ecology of tropical rainforest canopies and will have wide-ranging implications for global biodiversity estimates, and the future effects of climate change on tropical insect populations.