Indigenous Knowledge Informing Management of Tropical Forests: The Link between Rhythms in Plant Secondary Chemistry and Lunar Cycles

Vogt, Kristiina A.; Beard, Karen H.; Hammann, Shira; O’Hara Palmiotto, Jennifer; Vogt,Daniel J.; Scatena, Frederick N.; Hecht, Brooke P. 2002. Indigenous Knowledge Informing Management of Tropical Forests: The Link between Rhythms in Plant Secondary Chemistry and Lunar Cycles.. Ambio Vol. 31 No. 6, Sept. 2002

This research used knowledge of the indigenous practice of timing nontimber forest product harvest with the full moon to demonstrate that chemicals controlling the decomposition rate of foliage fluctuate with the lunar cycle and may have developed as a result of plant-herbivore interactions. Indigenous knowledge suggests that leaves harvested during the full moon are more durable. Palm leaves harvested during the full moon had higher total C, hemicellulose, complex C and lower Ca concentrations. These chemical changes should make palm leaves less susceptible to herbivory and more durable when harvested during the full moon. This study proposes a mechanism by which plants in the tropics minimize foliage herbivory and influence the decomposition rates of senesced leaves and their durability, especially during the full moon. This research supports the need to use natural life cycles in managing forests and provides a scientific basis for an indigenous community's harvesting practice.

Experimental Removal of Insectivores from Rain Forest Canopy: Direct and Indirect Effects

Dial, Roman, and Jonathan Roughgarden. 1995. Experimental Removal of Insectivores from Rain Forest Canopy: Direct and Indirect Effects. Ecology 76:1821–1834

This study considered the effects of insectivorous Anolis lizards on a large, complex food web of arthropods and associated herbivory in a tropical rain forest canopy. We excluded Anolis lizards for 6 mo from 20—30 m high tree crowns in Puerto Rican rain forest. Simultaneous with lizard exclusion, we sampled orb spiders, airborne arthropods, and leaf arthropods in lizard removal crowns and in controls. We also sampled herbivory at the end of the experiment. Lizard removal had strong, statistically significant, positive effects on arthropods >2 mm in length and weak negative effects on arthropods <2 mm. Parameters of arthropod body size distributions differed between removals and controls for leaf arthropods, but not for airborne arthropods. Among arthropod taxa >2 mm, both predatory, i.e., orb spiders and parasitic Hymenoptera, and nonpredatory forms, i.e. Diptera, Coleoptera, Orthoptera, and Blattaria, showed strong significant and positive responses to lizard removal. Large Psocoptera, Homoptera, leaf spiders, and ants did not show significant overall responses to lizard removal. Frequency of herbivore damage on new leaves was positively correlated with abundance of Orthoptera and Blattaria. This damage was significantly greater in lizard removal crowns than in controls, indicating an indirect effect of anoles on plants. The indirect effect of lizards on small arthropods through the predatory anthropod pathway appeared weak. Results of lizard removal shown by this study corroborate other lizard removal studies from more xeric, ground—level habitats with simpler food webs in the West Indies, particularly with respect to orb spiders and herbivory. Taken together with the results of similar experiments performed in trophically less complex systems, this experiment suggests that food web size is less important than body size in determining interaction strength between community members.

The effects of the frog Eleutherodactylus coqui on invertebrates and ecosystem processes at two scales in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

The Effects of the Frog Eleutherodactylus coqui on Invertebrates and Ecosystem Processes at Two Scales in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico
Karen H. Beard, Anne K. Eschtruth, Kristiina A. Vogt, Daniel J. Vogt and Frederick N. Scatena
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 19, No. 6 (Nov., 2003), pp. 607-617

Determining the ubiquity of top-down control effects of predators on their prey and ecosystem processes is important for understanding community and ecosystem-level consequences that may result from predator loss. We conducted experiments at two spatial scales to investigate the effects of terrestrial frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) on aerial and litter invertebrates, plant growth and herbivory, and litter decomposition. At both scales, frogs reduced aerial invertebrates and leaf herbivory, but had no effect on litter invertebrates. At the smaller scale, frogs increased foliage production rates, measured as the number of new leaves and new leaf area produced, by 80% and decomposition rates by 20%. The influence of E. coqui on increasing primary productivity and decomposition rates at the smaller scale appeared to be a result of elimination and excretion rather than of controlling prey. While the results provide evidence for frogs controlling herbivorous prey at both scales, species effects on ecosystem processes were only detectable at the smaller scale. The results highlight the difficulties in conducting experiments at large spatial scales. The findings from this study imply that the loss of amphibians and other species of higher trophic levels may affect nutrient cycling rates in tropical forests.
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