CHANGES IN THE INSECT HERBIVORE FAUNA AFTER THE FIRST RAINS IN A TROPICAL DRY FOREST
Keywords:dry-wet transition, insect seasonality, phenological synchrony, protected areas
Tropical dry forests are characterized by a pronounced dry season, when most trees shed their leaves, and a rainy season characterized by the production of new leaves. This study aimed to determine the effect of the first rains at the beginning of the rainy season on the insect herbivore fauna. We sampled 90 trees at the end of the dry season and 60 trees six days after the first rains using an entomological umbrella. Species richness and abundance of insect herbivores per tree was higher after the first rains. The results suggest a high synchrony between leaf production at the onset of the rainy season and the increase in insect herbivore diversity. Because young leaves are rich in nutrients and have a lower concentration of carbon-based defenses, many herbivore species in seasonal environments have their life cycles highly adjusted to the phenology of their host trees.
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