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CCNY biologists study rainforest host-plant associations
Date:8/19/2010

quickly in this study. Usually wood-feeders have relatively long life cycles because wood is low in nutrients and difficult to digest.

In this case, the host plants may have had an unusually high nutritional content or "the species are incredible assimilators," she explained. When the trees were cut, Panama was experiencing hot and dry weather, she noted, and this may have speeded up beetle life cycles.

The caged branches produced more than 30 different beetle species within the first month, and continue to produce additional species. Most species have not yet been identified, but so far plant-host associations appear to be consistent with those of the earlier study in French Guiana.

"Beetles are the first insects to visit fallen trees. Thus they are the first colonists in a nutrient cycle that is a tremendous component of the natural world," Professor Berkov said. "They start the process of converting wood biomass to animal biomass."

Data stored by the portable weather meters will be analyzed to determine how microclimate on the ground and in the canopy affects wood condition and beetle colonization. Experts on climate change think that some tropical rain forests are likely to become both hotter and drier in the near future. By documenting the microclimate preferences of these ecologically important beetles, it may be possible to predict how they will respond to rapidly changing conditions.


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Contact: Ellis Simon
esimon@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-6460
City College of New York
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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