Mountain Rain Forests in Southern Ecuador as a Hotspot of Biodiversity – Limited Knowledge and Diverging Patterns

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Highly complex ecosystems such as the tropical mountain rain forest in southern Ecuador probably harbor tens of thousands of species that interact with each other. It is impossible to understand an ecosystem without knowing the composition of its community. Such knowledge cannot be achieved without the examination of all major groups of animals, fungi, plants, and bacteria. For example, insects such as leaf beetles, ants, or hymenopteran and dipteran parasitoids have a high impact on forest ecosystems (Moutino et al. 2005; Soler et al. 2005), but have not been studied at the RBSF so far. The question of how many species there are on earth is still unresolved. Estimates range from four to 30 million species (e.g. Novotny et al. 2002). Ultimately, only counting and naming species can answer this question.