Panama Bug Count finds 6,000 Species in one Acre of Rainforest

Photo source: Jurgen Schmidl/University of Erlangen
Photo source: Jurgen Schmidl/University of Erlangen

Wired Magazine reports on this study to get an accurate count of Lorenzo Forest’s arthropod population.   Here’s more from the article by Sarah C.P. Williams:

A sweeping census involving more than 100 scientists and lasting almost a decade has estimated that Panama’s San Lorenzo forest is home to an estimated 25,246 arthropod species. The study is the most extensive survey of insects, spiders, and their relatives ever undertaken and should help researchers get a better understanding of what factors influence biodiversity.

Here are some of the methods researchers used to detect distinct species of bugs for this study:

To get a more complete view of arthropod abundance, scientists involved in the new effort used 14 different techniques to collect bugs in the San Lorenzo Forest, including picking beetles out of dead wood on the rainforest floor, climbing tree trunks and deploying helium balloons to reach the forest canopy and pluck high-dwelling insects off branches, and fogging trees with insecticides to catch the flying bugs. The collection methods were repeated during three distinct seasons of the year in 12 20-by-20 square meter plots. In all, the team collected 129,494 arthropods, compared with only a few thousand in most previous studies, then spent the next 8 years identifying and sorting the bugs.


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