Spatiotemporal diversity, structure and trophic guilds of insect assemblages in a semi-arid Sabkha ecosystem

PeerJ. 2015 Mar 24:3:e860. doi: 10.7717/peerj.860. eCollection 2015.

Abstract

The current study highlights some knowledge on the diversity and structure of insect communities and trophic groups living in Sabkha Djendli (semi-arid area of Northeastern Algeria). The entomofauna was monthly sampled from March to November 2006 using pitfall traps at eight sites located at the vicinity of the Sabkha. Structural and diversity parameters (species richness, Shannon index, evenness) were measured for both insect orders and trophic guilds. The canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) was applied to determine how vegetation parameters (species richness and cover) influence spatial and seasonal fluctuations of insect assemblages. The catches totalled 434 insect individuals classified into 75 species, 62 genera, 31 families and 7 orders, of which Coleoptera and Hymenoptera were the most abundant and constant over seasons and study stations. Spring and autumn presented the highest values of diversity parameters. Individual-based Chao-1 species richness estimator indicated 126 species for the total individuals captured in the Sabkha. Based on catch abundances, the structure of functional trophic groups was predators (37.3%), saprophages (26.7%), phytophages (20.5%), polyphages (10.8%), coprophages (4.6%); whereas in terms of numbers of species, they can be classified as phytophages (40%), predators (25.3%), polyphages (13.3%), saprophages (12%), coprophages (9.3%). The CCA demonstrated that phytophages and saprophages as well as Coleoptera and Orthoptera were positively correlated with the two parameters of vegetation, especially in spring and summer. While the abundance of coprophages was positively correlated with species richness of plants, polyphage density was positively associated with vegetation cover. The insect community showed high taxonomic and functional diversity that is closely related to diversity and vegetation cover in different stations of the wetland and seasons.

Keywords: Algeria; Conservation biology; Ecological niche; Entomological biodiversity; Functional groups; Inland wetlands; Insect community ecology; Pitfall trapping; Sabkha Djendli; Semi-arid lands.

Grants and funding

The authors declare there was no funding for this work.