, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 657-672

Temporal and vertical drosophilid (Insecta; Diptera) assemblage fluctuations in a neotropical gallery forest

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Abstract

The drosophilids of a gallery forest in the Brazilian savanna were investigated to identify the temporal and vertical patterns in the community structure of these insects. Twelve monthly collections were performed (December 2007 to November 2008) in three vertical strata of the forest (0, 4 and 8 m heights) using 30 traps baited with fermented banana. The drosophilid assemblage was composed of 61 species (7,623 individuals), experienced temporal fluctuations and was vertically stratified. Both the diversity and abundance of the flies were very low during the dry season, a time when the assemblages were dominated by the exotic species Drosophila simulans, whereas the community showed an increased abundance and richness of neotropical species and showed vertical stratification in the wet season. Rare species were found primarily at the ground level (flies usually associated with neotropical forests) or in the canopy, which harbors species currently associated with open vegetation, little-studied neotropical species and most likely several new species. These changes, which reflect drosophilid adaptations to different environments, involve a shifting of the ecological niches occupied by the flies in the forest over time. This process of change is termed niche construction. Thus, we conclude that this complex and dynamic community structure, which is related to the interaction of several environmental factors associated with different forest environments, contributes to the high diversity of gallery forests in the Brazilian savanna.