Diversity and Ecology of Saproxylic Hemiptera

  • Martin M. GossnerEmail author
  • Claas Damken
Part of the Zoological Monographs book series (ZM, volume 1)


Saproxyly evolved several times independently within the insect order Hemiptera. Saproxylic Hemiptera are ancient groups of insects with approx. 5000 species described worldwide. They occur in all major zoogeographic regions but show the highest diversity in the tropics and subtropics. Species of this group are predominantly fungivores, sucking on fungal hyphae in deadwood, but also include a number of predators. They colonize a broad range of habitats, including deadwood structures of living trees as well as standing and downed logs of different diameters and decay stages. Also several pyrophilous species are known. Although most species have good dispersal capacities to find ephemeral deadwood structures, many species with reduced wings are known to occur in leaf litter, which provides a stable habitat, particularly in the tropics. Despite this numerical and ecological importance, our knowledge about the biology and ecology of these species is scarce. Most information is available from temperate and boreal forests, where many species are highly threatened due to intensive management and decreased fire frequency in fire-prone systems. It can be assumed that a high percentage of tropical species with their concealed lifestyle are still not discovered. More research on the ecology and habitat requirements of saproxylic Hemiptera is needed to protect this ancient and ecologically diverse group.



We are grateful to Hanyrol H. Ahmad Sah for images and field work support in Brunei Darussalam, Laurent Fauvre (MNHN), Mauricio García, Ernst Heiss, Scott Horn, Peter Huemer, Gernot Kunz, Tobias Mainda, Petri Martikainen, George Poinar, and Gerhard Strauss for providing photographs, Frédéric Cherot, Eric Gordon, Ernst Heiss, Petr Kment, and Hwang Wei Song for the identification of specimens, Manfred Asche, Thierry Bourgoin, Jens Esser, Ernst Heiss, Werner Holzinger, Gernot Kunz, Lorène Marchal and Carsten Morkel for providing information or data, Flurin Sutter for his kind help in plotting the world maps of diversity distribution and the team of the Biodiversity Exploratories (DFG Priority Program 1374), in particular of the BELongDead project as well as the team of the Iran expedition in 2015 for their support. We further thank Ernst Heiss, Mike Ulyshen and one anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments on a previous version of the manuscript. Fieldwork and research on the Heteroptera of Brunei Darussalam was strongly supported by and conducted in close collaboration with Ulmar Grafe (Universiti Brunei Darussalam ) and funded through an UBD postdoctoral fellowship awarded to Claas Damken.


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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.Forest Entomology, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.DunedinNew Zealand

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