Michael Branstetter © Michael Branstetter


Winkler funnels for extracting insects under a tarpaulin in the rainforest at Cerro Saslaya in Nicaragua.

Within the fallen leaves of tropical forests (leaf litter), is a layer of concentrated arthropod biodiversity (the most diverse group of animals; e.g., insects and spiders). Beetles, especially weevils are prominent members. Recent work (Project ALAS—Arthropods of La Selva) has described the communities of litter weevils along the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica, and (Project LLAMA—Leaf Litter Arthropods of MesoAmerica) is focused on litter communities throughout Central America. These projects have described many new species and are improving our knowledge of species distributions across many geographic features. Findings show that the number of species in these habitats is greatly underestimated and many species have highly restricted distributions. Another program of research focuses on the adding to and updating our knowledge of the biodiversity and systematics of North American weevils.

Principal investigator: Bob Anderson.

Additional Resources

Leaf Litter Arthropods of MesoAmerica (LLAMA)