Quantifying variation of soil Arthropods using different sampling protocols: is diversity affected?

TitleQuantifying variation of soil Arthropods using different sampling protocols: is diversity affected?
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsGonzález, G, Cuevas, E, Nakamura, K, Ara, K, Barberena-Arias, MF
ISBN Number978-953-51-0255-7
Accession NumberLUQ.1119

In ecological studies, the use of different sampling methods for the same purpose influence data quality and thus the resulting conclusions (Coddington et al. 1996; Fisher 1999). For example, to collect arthropods from soil and litter samples a soil corer or a shovel may be used. Soil corers compact the soil (Meyer 1996) making difficult for organisms to leave the sample while shovels create a large disturbance (Longino et al. 2002) promoting mobile organisms to leave and reducing their apparent abundance in the sample. As a consequence the diversity of collected arthropods will vary between these two procedures, resulting in either an under- or overestimate of the diversity of the collected fauna (André et al. 2002 ). These different results will lead the researcher to infer different conclusions. Therefore it is essential to assess how different procedures affect the abundance, richness and species composition of the retrieved arthropods. Arthropods are usually retrieved from soil/litter samples with Berlese-Tullgren funnels (Walter et al. 1987; Rohitha 1992; MacFadyen 1961; Bremner 1990; Lakly & Crossley 2000; MacFadyen 1953; Haarlov 1947). In these funnels, a source of heat (i.e. a light bulb) is placed above the sample, and a collecting vial filled with a killing solution (e.g. 70% ethanol) is placed below the sample. Light from the bulb has a double effect because light per se forces photophobic organisms to move away from the source, and light heats the sample. As the sample dries, a temperature and humidity gradient is created between the upper and lower surfaces of the sample (Haarlov 1947; Block 1966). As this gradient moves downwards, animals are forced down into the collecting liquid (Coleman et al. 2004). By increasing the temperature within the funnel, heat speeds drying (Coleman et al. 2004) but may also burn organisms before their collection and thus decreases estimates of their abundance (Walter et al. 1987). Alternatively, in remote field conditions, extractions without light are logistically more affordable and feasible, in which case the establishment of the gradient and the drying out of the sample depends on the room temperature in which the extractions are performed (Krell et al. 2005). Both, extractions with and without light, create different conditions within the sample, as a consequence, the use, or no use, of light during extractions, can result in different groups of arthropods being extracted, and thus a different set of data (Agosti et al. 2000). The duration of arthropod extraction can also affect diversity estimates. Extraction periods reported in the literature vary from 2 d (Burgess et al. 1999), 3 d (Hasegawa 1997), to 4 d (Oliver & Beattie 1996; Bestelmeyer et al. 2000) and up to 7 d (Chen & Wise 1999; Walter et al. 1987). Long extraction periods are generally assumed to result in more complete extractions and higher abundance of the extracted fauna (Oliver & Beattie 1996) as organisms with low mobility require more time to exit the sample, but longer extraction periods may expose the samples to potential contamination with foreign organisms. On the other hand, to establish an adequate period of extraction, the environment of origin and the developmental stage should be taken into account (André et al. 2002). For example, organisms adapted to extreme environments, such as areas devoid of vegetation cover that have large temperature fluctuations, may require longer extraction periods than organisms adapted to less extreme environments. Furthermore, organisms from the same habitat but occurring in the dry or wet seasons (Oliver & Beattie 1996) or different developmental stages (Søvik & Leinaas 2002) may differ in the extraction period required to retrieve them. As a consequence, in order to collect reliable data, it is necessary to assess how an adequate duration of the extraction varies among environments of origin and developmental stages of the focal organism. The present study was carried out in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, specifically in tropical dry and wet forests with contrasting environmental conditions (Ewel & Whitmore 1973). The objective of this study was to assess how the diversity of extracted arthropods was affected by variations in the collection and extraction methodologies, and by variations in the duration of the extraction. We present abundance, richness and composition of the collected fauna. The information presented here will provide researchers with data to simplify the logistics of arthropod sampling and extraction, and to better choose a specific procedure for a given focal organism in a given habitat.