Title

Effect of Soil Type on Abundance and Diversity of Insect Herbivores of Pentaclethra macroloba

Authors

Audrey Crocker

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

Tropical forests contain one of the most diverse and complex ecosystems in the world, home to many undiscovered plant and animal species. Pentaclethra macroloba is a tropical lowland tree species that extends from Nicaragua to the Amazon. At La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, P. macroloba demonstrates unusual and unique growth patterns. P. macroloba takes almost half of the stems at La Selva, clearly dominating over all other tree species. In addition, the tree has an unusually high mortality rate as a sapling (between 30 and 200 cm). In order to further understand these unusual growth patterns, this study investigates P. macroloba ?s role in the ecosystem at La Selva by measuring herbivore communities and amounts of herbivory in two different soil types, alluvial and upland. 195 new leaves from 73 saplings were found in alluvial soils and followed from May 2011 to August 2011. 170 new leaves from 69 saplings were found and followed in the upland soils during the same time period. Photographs and rachus measurements were taken twice during the summer in order to measure leaf growth and amounts of herbivory using ImageJ. These plants were plotted on La Selva?s Geographic Information System (GIS) in order to collect soil information. In order to calculate the herbivore diversity index in each soil type, caterpillars were reared and identified. The alluvial soils contain a more diverse herbivore community (diversity index of .89) than in the upland soil (diversity index of .75). These results show that the more diverse herbivore communities in the alluvial soil is due to the higher prevalence of new P. macroloba leaves in the alluvial soil because of many sprouts and swamp locations

Advisor

Elizabeth Braker

Department

bio

Support

Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Science Research Endowment

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