Are arthropod species/assemblages functionally replaced among rainforest locations?

We are broadly interested in estimating the relative influence of biogeography, rainfall seasonality, productivity and local woody plant richness on the diversity and composition of arthropod assemblages in tropical rainforests. To achieve this, comparison of arthropod community variables among ForestGEO sites located in different biogeographic regions is essential. We are also interested to evaluate what is the relative importance of plant phylogeny and functional traits in shaping the abundance and diversity of herbivore and detritivore communities. Further, predicting and mitigating the loss of biodiversity remains essential. We seek to identify species traits that may increase the likelihood of species extinction for a wide variety of arthropod groups.

How consistent is the structure of interaction networks based on insects across rainforests?

Trophic interactions have been described as the glue that holds together ecological communities and several authors have called for the conservation of interactions (rather than individual species) as a goal for conservationists. Networks of feeding interactions among insect herbivores, their hosts and natural enemies such as parasitoids, describe the structure of these assemblages and may be critically linked to their dynamics and stability. We are interested to understand how is variability in food web structure (“connectivity” and other measures of insect interaction structure and relative insect abundance, including host-specificity) affected by the phylogenetic structure of plant communities (formed from different regional species pools), rainfall and productivity.

How can we efficiently monitor insect populations in the long-term with new molecular techniques?

In the tropics, where both insect diversity and taxonomic impediment are high, we routinely use DNA barcoding and Barcode Index Numbers to identify or distinguish focal species. We are currently exploring how we can develop protocols to apply metabarcoding to derive annual population indices relevant to a large fraction of local arthropod assemblages, and not to just a few focal groups. This represents a formidable challenge as we have shown that small areas of tropical rainforests can easily support 25,000 arthropod species or more.

M.Sc., University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1985

Ph.D., Griffith University, Australia, 1990

Didham, R.K., Leather, S.R. Basset, Y. 2017. Don’t be a zero-sum reviewer. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 10, 1-4.

Lucas, M., Forero, D. & Basset, Y. 2016. Diversity and recent population trends of assassin bugs (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 9, 546-558.

Basset, Y., Cizek, L., Cuénoud, P., Didham, R.K., Novotny, V., Ødegaard, F., Roslin, T., Tishechkin, A.K., Schmidl, J., Winchester, N.N., Roubik, D.W., Aberlenc, H.-P., Bail, J., Barrios, H., Bridle, J.R., Castaño-Meneses, G., Corbara, B., Curletti, G., da Rocha, W.D., De Bakker, D., Delabie, J.H.C., Dejean, A., Fagan, L.L., Floren, A., Kitching, R.L., Medianero, E., de Oliveira; E.G., Orivel, J., Pollet, M., Rapp, M., Ribeiro, S.P., Roisin, Y., Schmidt, J.B., Sørensen, L., Lewinsohn, T.M., Leponce, M. 2015. Arthropod distribution in a tropical rainforest: tackling a four dimensional puzzle. PLoS ONE 10(12): e0144110. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144110

Basset, Y., Barrios, H., Segar, S., Srygley, R.B., Aiello, A., Warren, A.D., Delgado, F., Coronado, J., Lezcano, J., Arizala, S., Rivera, M., Perez, F., Bobadilla, R., Lopez, Y. & Ramirez, J.A. 2015. The butterflies of Barro Colorado Island, Panama: local extinction since the 1930s. PLoS ONE, 10, e0136623. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0136623

Fayle, T.M., Turner, E.C., Basset, Y., Ewers, R.M., Reynolds, G. & Novotny, V. 2015. Whole-ecosystem experimental manipulations of tropical forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 30, 334-346.

Basset, Y., Eastwood, R., Sam, L., Lohman, D.J., Novotny, V., Treuer, T., Miller, S.E., Weiblen, G.D., Pierce, N.E., Bunyavejchewin, S., Sakchoowong, W., Kongnoo, P. & Osorio-Arenas, M.A. 2013. Cross-continental comparisons of butterfly assemblages in rainforests: implications for biological monitoring. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 6, 223-233.

Basset, Y., Cizek, L., Cuénoud, P., Didham, R.K., Guilhaumon, F., Missa, O., Novotny, V., Ødegaard, F., Roslin, T., Schmidl, J., Tishechkin, A.K., Winchester, N.N., Roubik,D.W., Aberlenc, H.-P., Bail, J., Barrios, H., Bridle, J.R., Castaño-Meneses, G., Corbara, B., Curletti, G., Duarte da Rocha, W., De Bakker,D., Delabie, J.H.C., Dejean, A., Fagan, L.L., Floren, A., Kitching, R.L., Medianero, E., Miller, S.E., de Oliveira, E.G., Orivel, J., Pollet, M., Rapp, M., Ribeiro, S.P., Roisin, Y., Schmidt, J.B., Sørensen, L., & Leponce, M. 2012. Arthropod diversity in a tropical forest. Science, 338, 1481-1484.

Basset, Y., Missa, O., Alonso A., Miller, S.E., Curletti, G., De Meyer, M., Eardley, C., Lewis, O.T., Mansell, M.W., Novotny, V. & Wagner, T. 2008. Changes in arthropod assemblages along a wide gradient of disturbance in Gabon. Conservation Biology, 22, 1552-1563.

Basset, Y., Novotny, V., Miller, S.E. & Kitching, R.L. (eds) 2003. Arthropods of Tropical Forests. Spatio-temporal Dynamics and Resource Use in the Canopy. Cambridge University Press, xvi + 474 pp. 

Novotny, V., Basset, Y., Miller, S.E., Weiblen, G.D., Bremer, B., Cizek, L. & Drozd, P. 2002. Low host specificity of herbivorous insects in a tropical forest. Nature 416, 841-844.

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