Insects on flowers: The unexpectedly high biodiversity of flower-visiting beetles in a tropical rainforest canopy
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Insect biodiversity peaks in tropical rainforest environments where a large but as yet unknown proportion of species are found in the canopy. While there has been a proliferation of insect biodiversity research undertaken in the rainforest canopy, most studies focus solely on insects that inhabit the foliage. In a recent paper, we examined the distribution of canopy insects across five microhabitats (mature leaves, new leaves, flowers, fruit and suspended dead wood) in an Australian tropical rainforest, showing that the density (per dry weight gram of microhabitat) of insects on flowers were ten to ten thousand times higher than on the leaves. Flowers also supported a much higher number of species than expected based on their contribution to total forest biomass. Elsewhere we show that most of these beetle species were specialized to flowers with little overlap in species composition between different canopy microhabitats. Here we expand our discussion of the implications of our results with respect to specialization and the generation of insect biodiversity in the rainforest canopy. Lastly, we identify future directions for research into the biodiversity and specialization of flower-visitors in complex tropical rainforests.
Communicative & Integrative Biology
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