Introduction• the diversity of insects in the humid has amazed biologists since the days of Bates, Wallace and the other 19th century explorer naturalists.
• Insect community ecologists working in the tropics believe they have special problems compared with their colleagues studying plants or vertebrates.
• Today, botanists still face great taxonomic challenges in the tropics, but community ecologists can choose to work in sites where essentially all plant5s are described.
• Insect ecologists can learn from the success plant ecologists have had in understanding tropical diversity.
• Two main foundations:- The availability of complete or near-complete floral inventories for a number of different areas.- The intensive study of plant demography and inter specific interactions of particular ecological research sites.
How many insect species?• Fogging- Involves pumping a cloud of a fast-acting insecticide (usually a pyrethroid). Into the canopy and collecting the insects that fall from the foliage.
Herbivore and Parasitoid specificity• Studies of host-plant specificity and their obverse, the number of species of herbivore per tree are interesting in their own right.• Many of the arguments about herbivore specificity are paralleled in discussions of the host specificity of tropical parasitoids.
Macroecological arguments• Arguments based on large-scale patterns of species abundances, sizes, ranges, etc,. although they are aware of overlap between this and previous sections.
• In the absence of a theoretical understanding of the size-abundance relationship, it might still be possible to use this technique if they had empirically derived patterns.
• Other macroecological approaches may provide insights into total insect numbers. It has long been known that insect species richness correlates with plant species richness, both at local and regional levels.
Food web Studies• They also suggested that the study of food webs might help understand total insect richness.• Food web invariants could be extremely valuable in estimating total diversity, but also in giving an insight into how diversity is maintained.
Inventories and Food Webs The progress in understanding tropical insect diversity is most likely to result from two approaches• From extensive surveys of the diversity of insects• From building quantitative food webs
Creating Inventories Issues in the design of sampling protocols for species inventories• The seasonal component of diversity must be measured• Sampling effort should be apportioned in relation to species diversity