Arthropods, including insects, spiders, and other joint-legged invertebrates, are the most diverse group of animals, representing over two thirds of the Earth's 1.4 million described species and a much greater proportion of the millions left to be described. Tropical rainforests, on the other hand, are the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. Ecologists are just beginning to understand dynamics of rainforest canopies, the nexus of these two pinnacles of biodiversity, thanks to the work of Dr. Roger Kitching (Griffith University) and others. Kitching, a former Earthwatch principal investigator, is the co-editor of the newest book on the subject: Arthropods of Tropical Forests.
For four years, Earthwatch teams worked with Kitching in the rainforest canopies of Australia and Brunei, employing a multi-level approach to sample the astounding diversity in these forests. In Brunei, for example, teams found 800 species of large moths alone in one hectare sampled. But documenting the arthropod fauna of rainforest canopies is only the first step toward understanding and conserving this diversity. Arthropods of Tropical Forests has the most up-to-date analyses of the vertical distribution of arthropods in the canopy, changes in distribution over time, and the patterns of resource use. Several of the chapters are co-authored by Kitching, and authors report on findings from tropical forests around the world. Although a bit technical for lay readers, this book will be valuable addition to the library of any student of rainforest ecology.
Arthropods of Tropical Rainforests: Spatio-temporal Dynamics and Resource Use in the Canopy. Edited by Yves Basset, Vojtech Novotny, Scott E. Miller, and Roger L. Kitching. Cambridge University Press, 2003.