Seasonality and Stratification: Neotropical Saproxylic Beetles Respond to a Heat and Moisture Continuum with Conservatism and Plasticity

  • Amy BerkovEmail author
Part of the Zoological Monographs book series (ZM, volume 1)


Insect niche breadth informs community assembly and impacts the resilience of populations, species, and ecosystems. Niches are poorly known for most tropical insects, especially concealed feeders associated with tall trees. This chapter synthesizes data regarding seasonality and stratification in the early colonists of moribund wood, Cerambycidae and saproxylic Curculionidae. These data, from five rearing experiments conducted at four Neotropical moist forest sites over two decades, are of particular value because they can be used to generate predictions in an unpredictable time. Beetle species currently associated with warmer, drier, microhabitats (in the subfamily Cerambycinae and some Curculionidae) might withstand drier conditions, but not necessarily higher temperatures. Those currently associated with relatively cool, moist microhabitats (most Curculionidae) may be more vulnerable to changes in the length and severity of the dry season. Rather than characterizing tropical saproxylic insects by their periods of adult activity or flight height, which can be variable, it would be useful to conceptualize them with preferences along a continuum, from warm and dry to cool and moist.



I am grateful to the various project funders: the American Philosophical Society, the National Science Foundation, the Fund for Neotropical Plant Research of The New York Botanical Garden, the PSC-CUNY Research Foundation, and an anonymous donor. Thanks to the following for their assistance with always-daunting logistics: Hector Barrios (University of Panama), Hortensia Broce (Autoridad del Canal de Panamá), Lil Camacho (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute), Juan Carlos Cruz Díaz and Dennis Vasquez (Osa Conservation, Costa Rica), Giovana Espino and Nigel Pitman (Amazon Conservation Association), Gerardo Lamas and Juan Grados (Museo de Historia Natural, Peru), Melania Muñoz (CONAGEBIO, Costa Rica), and Karina Ramirez (INRENA, Peru). Many thanks to the following for locating and identifying host trees: Reinaldo Aguilar (Los Charcos de Osa, Costa Rica), Pedro Centeno (Amazon Conservation Association), Andrez Hernandez (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute), and Scott Mori (New York Botanical Garden). Thanks to the following for field assistance: Alec Baxt and Chris Roddick (Brooklyn Botanic Garden), Hugette and Gérald Dumas (Saül, French Guiana), Marvin Lopéz (Osa Conservation), Sara Pinzon (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute), Eulogio Quispe (Amazon Conservation Association), Marleny Rivera (University of Panama), and Bob Weber (Highlands, NC). Thanks to previous City College and City University of New York students who sorted many thousands of beetle specimens: Timmy Eng, Joyce Fassbender, Julie Feinstein, Lin Li, and Jhunior Morillo. The following specialists very graciously assisted with beetle identification: Thomas Atkinson (University of Texas), Larry Bezark (Sacramento, CA, USA), Lawrence Kirkendall (University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway), Miguel Monné (Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Charles O’Brien (Green Valley, AZ, USA), Sarah M. Smith (Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA), Gérard Tavakilian (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France).


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© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection.  2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, City College and the Graduate CenterThe City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Division of Invertebrate ZoologyThe American Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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