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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018 / Aquatic life in Neotropical rainforest canopies: Techniques using artificial phytotelmata to study the invertebrate communities inhabiting therein

A. Dejean, F. Petitclerc, F. Azemar, L. Pelozuelo, S. Talaga, M. Leponce and A. Compin (2018)

Aquatic life in Neotropical rainforest canopies: Techniques using artificial phytotelmata to study the invertebrate communities inhabiting therein

Comptes Rendus Biologies, 341:20-27.

In Neotropical rainforest canopies, phytotelmata ("plant-held waters") shelter diverse aquatic macroinvertebrate communities, including vectors of animal diseases. Studying these communities is difficult because phytotelmata are widely dispersed, hard to find from the ground and often inaccessible. We propose here a method for placing in tree crowns "artificial phytotelmata" whose size and shape can be tailored to different research targets. The efficacy of this method was shown while comparing the patterns of community diversity of three forest formations. We noted a difference between a riparian forest and a rainforest, whereas trees alongside a dirt road cutting through that rainforest corresponded to a subset of the latter. Because rarefied species richness was significantly lower when the phytotelmata were left for three weeks rather than for six or nine weeks, we recommend leaving the phytotelmata for twelve weeks to permit predators and phoretic species to fully establish themselves.

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