A cross-continental comparison of assemblages of seed- and fruit-feeding insects in tropical rain forests: Faunal composition and rates of attack

Yves Basset, Chris Dahl, Richard Ctvrtecka, Sofia Gripenberg, Owen T. Lewis, Simon T. Segar, Petr Klimes, Héctor Barrios, John W. Brown, Sarayudh Bunyavejchewin, Buntika A. Butcher, Anthony I. Cognato, Stuart Davies, Ondrej Kaman, Milos Knizek, Scott E. Miller, Geoffrey E. Morse, Vojtech Novotny, Nantachai Pongpattananurak, Pairot PramualDonald L.J. Quicke, Robert K. Robbins, Watana Sakchoowong, Mark Schutze, Eero J. Vesterinen, Wen Zhi Wang, Yun Yu Wang, George Weiblen, Joseph S. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Aim: Insects feeding on seeds and fruits represent interesting study systems, potentially able to lower the fitness of their host plants. In addition to true seed eaters, a suite of insects feed on the fleshy parts of fruits. We examined the likelihood of community convergence in whole insect assemblages attacking seeds/fruits in three tropical rain forests. Location: Three ForestGEO permanent forest plots within different biogeographical regions: Barro Colorado Island (Panama), Khao Chong (Thailand) and Wanang (Papua New Guinea). Methods: We surveyed 1,186 plant species and reared 1.1 ton of seeds/fruits that yielded 80,600 insects representing at least 1,678 species. We assigned seeds/fruits to predation syndromes on the basis of plant traits relevant to insects, seed/fruit appearance and mesocarp thickness. Results: We observed large differences in insect faunal composition, species richness and guild structure between our three study sites. We hypothesize that the high species richness of insect feeding on seeds/fruits in Panama may result from a conjunction of low plant species richness and high availability of dry fruits. Insect assemblages were weakly influenced by seed predation syndromes, both at the local and regional scale, and the effect of host phylogeny varied also among sites. At the driest site (Panama), the probability of seeds of a plant species being attacked depended more on seed availability than on the measured seed traits of that plant species. However, when seeds were attacked, plant traits shaping insect assemblages were difficult to identify and not related to seed availability. Main conclusions: We observed only weak evidence of community convergence at the intercontinental scale among these assemblages. Our study suggests that seed eaters may be most commonly associated with dry fruits at relatively dry tropical sites where fleshy fruits may be less prevalent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1395-1407
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Ministerstvo Zeme≤de≤lstvı, Grant/Award Number: RO0117; 6779/2017-MZE-14151; Secretaria Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologıa, Grant/Award Number: Sistema Nacional de Investigacion; Suomen Akatemia; Grantova Agentura Cesk≤ e Republiky, Grant/Award Number: 13-09979S; Royal Society, Grant/ Award Number: Royal Society University Research Fellowship; Smithsonian Institution Barcoding Opportunity, Grant/Award Number: FY013 and FY014; Chulalongkorn University, Grant/Award Number: Ratchadaphiseksomphot Fund; ForestGEO Research Grant Program

Funding Information:
We thank the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama), Khao Chong Botanical Garden (Thailand) and Binatang Research Centre and Wanang Conservation Area (Papua New Guinea) for logistical support. Relevant collecting permits were obtained from MiAmbiente via the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the National Research Council of Thailand and Papua New Guinea Research Institute, respectively. D. Catalina Fernandez, Indira Simon Chaves, Marjorie Cedeño, Marleny Rivera (Panama), Pitoon Kongnoo, Montarika Panmeng, Sutipun Putnaul (Thailand), Dominic Rinan, Jonah Philips, Roll Lilip and Ruma Umari (Papua New Guinea) collected most of the insect material. This study was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (16-20825S). Fieldwork on BCI was largely funded by a postdoctoral grant from the Academy of Finland to SG. Grants from the Smithsonian Institution Barcoding Opportunity FY013 and FY014 (to YB), from the ForestGEO Research Grant Program (to C.D.), and in-kind help from the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding and Southern China DNA Barcoding Center allowed to sequence insect specimens. Taxonomists listed in Table S2 helped with insect identification. Y.B. and H.B. are members of the Sistema Nacional de Investigacion, SENACYT, Panama. S.G. holds a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. M.K. was partly supported by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic (Resolution RO0117; 6779/2017-MZE-14151). D.L.J.Q. and B.A.B. were supported by Ratchadaphiseksomphot Fund, Chulalongkorn University (respectively Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship and Endowment Fund R/F_2559_019_05_23).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • convergence
  • guild structure
  • pulp eater
  • seed predator
  • seed rain
  • seed syndrome
  • species richness


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