Biodiversity surveys

  Why surveys?
  Why insect surveys?
  Survey results.

  Photo gallery

Why surveys?
Biodiversity surveys are an important tool in ecological 
research of tropical ecosystems, identification of
conservation priorities, assessment of sustainable use
of biodiversity resources, and monitoring of environmental
impact of various economic activities, such as logging, 
mining or agriculture.

Why insect surveys?
Because of the tremendous diversity of plants and 
animals in tropical ecosystems, it is necessary to focus 
on target groups. Desired features for target taxa include
(1) generality of distribution, with members of the group 
found in various habitats and areas; (2) specialization 
to different habitats and forest types at the species level; 
(3) known or suspected correlation of distribution and 
abundance with environmental perturbation; (4) readily identifiable without specialized 
training, at least once the local fauna is known; and (5) readily sampled with quantitative 
methods, providing high quality data for statistical analysis. 

Insects are, together with plants and vertebrates, standard part of biodiversity surveys, 
primarily due to their high species diversity (e.g., probably some 300,000 species in 
New Guinea). Among various survey methods and target taxa, light-trapping of moths 
(Lepidoptera) have become the most often used approach in biodiversity surveys. 
Light-trapping is a sampling method of choice as it is a mass-sampling technique that 
allows rapid, repeatable sampling by non-specialists. High species richness of the 
Lepidoptera and their close association with vegetation, together with the availability 
of established sampling protocols, make them exceptionally suitable as a focal taxon 
for the study of biodiversity patterns.

Another target taxa which can be considered are butterflies (Papilionoidea) and ants 
(Formicidae). The butterflies are a well-known taxon and their response to habitat 
disturbance has been studied in great detail. Butterfly surveys can also provide 
assessment of the butterfly farming potential of the site. The only diasadvantage of 
this taxon is time-consuming sampling method, i.e. individual collecting along  
transects. The ants can provide complementary information to that on moths and 
butterflies as they represent a different trophic level - unlike herbivorous Lepidoptera, 
the ants are the most important invertebrate predators in rainforest ecosystems.

Survey results:
Our Center can deliver the following results from insect biodiversity surveys:
  Data on community composition of target insect taxa and their taxonomic and 
ecological analysis, including practical suggestions (depending on the aim of 
the survey)
  Insect voucher specimens, identified and deposited at the PNG National Insect 
  Database of insect specimens and species, including quantitative information from 
the survey and digital images of all species
  Training of local assistants in the surveyed area, including training for the follow-up