Plant-herbivore food webs in primary and secondary rainforests

This project aim to generate a complete plant-insect food webs from 1 ha of primary and 1 ha of secondary lowland rainforest, sampling entire foliage from the forest vegetation for herbivorous larvae, including free-feeding leaf-chewing larvae (Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Orthoptera, and Phasmatodea), and mining larvae (Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Diptera), and also sampling entire vegetation for ants and termites. This project also includes detailed study of three-dimensional structure of the forest, as we record the position and dimensions of all trees with DBH>5cm, and estimate their leaf area (by picking and weighing all leaves from the entire vegetation within 1 ha of the forest) as well as leaf damage by herbivores. All herbivore larvae are documented by digital photography and reared to adults or parasitoids. The project also includes a study of wood boring insects (Coleoptera: Curculionidae and Cerambycidae) reared from three 20-kg timber sections from each tree and liana species with DBH>10 cm.

The project is using two 1 ha plots of forest designated by village landowners from our study site, Wanang village, to be felled and cultivated as food gardens as a part of their slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture. In this way, our study can sample felled trees, while not contributing to deforestation, while Wanang villagers get an opportunity to raise additional income as research assistants.

We have just completed the filed part of our work, which took 8 paraecologists from BRC and 15 village assistants 20 months to complete. This is presently our flagship study where all BRC staff members make their contribution.

Pictures:

Forest felling during the survey: [ Food web studies ]

Impact of the project on Wanang community: [ Wanang Conservation ]

Study of leaf-miners: [ Leaf miners ]

Study of wood boring insects: [ Wood boring insects ]

Study of ants: [ Ant studies ]

Study of vegetation: [ Plant plot surveys ]