Feeding guild structure of beetles on Australian tropical rainforest trees reflects microhabitat resource availability
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1. We tested the hypotheses that feeding guild structure of beetle assemblages changed with different arboreal microhabitats and that these differences were consistent across rainforest tree species. 2. Hand collection and beating techniques were used from the gondola of the Australian Canopy Crane to collect beetles from five microhabitats (mature leaves, flush leaves, flowers, fruit and suspended dead wood) within the rainforest canopy. A simple randomization procedure was implemented to test whether the abundances of each feeding guild on each microhabitat were different from that expected based on a null hypothesis of random distribution of individuals across microhabitats. 3. Beetles from different feeding guilds were not randomly distributed, but congregated on those microhabitats that are likely to provide the highest concentrations of their preferred food sources. Herbivorous beetles, in particular, were over-represented on flowers and flush foliage and under-represented on mature leaves and dead wood. Proportional numbers of species within each feeding guild were remarkably uniform across tree species for each microhabitat, but proportional abundances of feeding guilds were all significantly non-uniformly distributed between host tree species, regardless of microhabitat, confirming patterns previously found for arthropods in trees in temperate and tropical forests. 4. These results show that the canopy beetle community is partitioned into discrete assemblages between microhabitats and that this partitioning arises because of differences in feeding guild structure as a function of the diversity and the temporal and spatial availability of resources found on each microhabitat.
Journal of Animal Ecology