Our collaborative group conducts biodiversity surveys of lepidopteran larvae, their parasitoids, and their food plants in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, and the United States. For six unique and diverse sites across the Americas, these projects have and will continue to document interaction diversity within and among these sites. Over half of all known species are involved in plant-insect-parasitoid interactions, and these are among the most productive and tractable systems for understanding multi-trophic interactions. The bibliography for this LifeDesk includes important publications for these issues. Images, data, and life history descriptions for caterpillars and associated parasitic Diptera and Hymenoptera are available at this site. Host plant data includes images and will soon include raw spectroscopy data (NMR and Mass spec) for hundreds of species of focal host plants.
Our focal study sites were chosen based on several important criteria: a) sufficient preliminary data, b) adequate infrastructure for the research, and c) inclusion of a wide range of latitude, elevation, and climatic variables.
- Yanayacu Biological Station (YBS), Ecuador. This station includes montane wet forest at 2200 m in the eastern Ecuadorian Andes and provides easy access to a diversity of unique habitats ranging from paramo (3000m) to lowland rain forest (500m). Our tritrophic database (funded by NSF and Earthwatch) at this site currently includes 10 years of data on caterpillars and parasitoids associated with 224 host plant species from Yanayacu and from a continuous forest gradient at elevations from 500 to 3000m.
- La Selva Biological Station, Heredia Province, Costa Rica. La Selva consists of over 1600 hectares of forest and, combined with our adjacent elevational gradients, varies from 35 - 1500 m. Our tritrophic database (funded mostly by Earthwatch) at this site currently includes 16 years of data on caterpillars and parasitoids associated with 290 host plant species from La Selva and from forest fragments at higher elevations to the north and east.
- North American sites. Sites using identical methods (funded by Earthwatch) include: 1) Southwestern Research Station; Southern Arizona in the Chiricahua Mountains at 1600 m, operated by the American Museum of Natural History; this site provides easy access to many replicated elevational gradients from 1200-3000 m and a great diversity of life zones; 2) Southern Louisiana, based out of the River Wildlife Management Area and Tulane University; the sites accessed from this location include thousands of hectares of forests and marshes; our interaction diversity dataset from this site includes 10 years of data; 3) Great Basin and Sierra Nevada mountains where our collection sites for our 4-year database include forests across the Sierra Nevada and mountain ranges in the Great Basin.
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Recent bibliographic items
- A new species of solitary Meteorus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) reared from caterpillars of toxic butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in Ecuador
- Possible function of the spatulate setae surrounding the papillae anales of Sarota butterflies (Riodinidae: Helicopini)
- Shelter building in the Hesperiidae: a classification scheme for larval shelters
- The early stages of Veladyris pardalis in eastern Ecuador (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae, Ithomiinae)