Ecological Research

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 125–130 | Cite as

Distribution and abundance of foliage-arthropods across elevational gradients in the east and west Himalayas

Note and Comment


Elevational gradients are ideal for studying geographic variation in the distribution and abundance of organisms corresponding to predictable variation in climatic factors. This study provides a broad-scale assessment of variation in distribution patterns of foliage-dwelling arthropod orders along elevational gradients located across an extensive precipitation gradient in the Himalayas. Relative abundances of foliage-dwelling arthropods were estimated from 16 sites during the summer months. Abundances declined significantly from east to west and peaked at intermediate elevations along elevational gradients, corresponding with trends in climatic variables.


Arthropod orders Bagging-method Climate Summer Vegetation 



I wish to thank the Director, Dean of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Chief Wildlife Wardens of the respective states for providing permits to carry out the field sampling. D. Mohan and Pratap Singh are thanked for facilitating this work, and Rekha Warrier is thanked for assistance with field sampling. This work was supported by Grant-in-aid from WII. Trevor Price, G.S. Rawat and Abishek Harihar are thanked for providing comments on the manuscript. In particular, I wish to thank Roman J. Dial for his insightful suggestions on improving and interpreting the analyses that greatly enhanced the quality of the manuscript. I also thank the handling editor and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on earlier drafts.

Supplementary material

11284_2012_1000_MOESM1_ESM.doc (83 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 83 kb)


  1. Acharya BK, Sanders NJ, Vijayan L, Chettri B (2011) Elevational gradients in bird diversity in the eastern Himalaya: an evaluation of distribution patterns and their underlying mechanisms. PLoS ONE 6:e29097PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhattarai KR, Vetaas OR, Grytnes JA (2004) Fern species richness along a Central Himalayan elevational gradient. Nepal J Biogeogr 31:389–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clarke A, Gaston KJ (2006) Climate, energy and diversity. Proc R Soc Lond B 273:2257–2266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Danks HV (1992) Arctic insects as indicators of environmental change. Arctic 45:159–166Google Scholar
  5. Dial RJ, Ellwood MDF, Turner EC, Foster WA (2006) Arthropod abundance, canopy structure, and microclimate in a Bornean lowland tropical rain forest. Biotropica 38:643–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Evans KL, Warren PH, Gaston KJ (2005) Species-energy relationships at the macroecological scale: a review of the mechanisms. Biol Rev 80:1–25PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gaston KJ, Chown SL (1999) Elevation and climatic tolerance: a test using dung beetles. Oikos 86:584–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gotelli NJ, Ellison AM (2004) A primer of ecological statistics. Sinauer, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  9. Grytnes JA, Vetaas OR (2002) Species richness and altitude, a comparison between simulation models and interpolated plant species richness along the Himalayan altitudinal gradient. Nepal Am Nat 159:294–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hadley NF (1970) Micrometeorology and energy exchange in two desert arthropods. Ecology 51:434–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hijmans RJ, Cameron SE, Parra JL, Jones PG, Jarvis A (2005) Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. Int J Climatol 25:1965–1978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hodkinson ID (2005) Terrestrial insects along elevation gradients: species and community responses to altitude. Biol Rev 80:489–513PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hulbert SH (1984) Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol Monogr 54:187–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hysell TH, Wagner MR, Grier CR (1996) Patterns of herbivore abundance along a climatic gradient: guild shift of leaf-feeding insects and changes in leaf characteristics. Environ Entomol 25:977–982Google Scholar
  15. Janzen DH (1973) Sweep samples of tropical foliage insects: effects of season, vegetation types, elevation, time of day, and insularity. Ecology 54:687–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Katti M, Price TD (2003) Latitudinal trends in body size among over-wintering leaf warblers (genus Phylloscopus). Ecography 26:69–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Landsberg J, Gillieson DS (1995) Regional and local variation in insect herbivory, vegetation and soils of eucalypt associations in contrasted landscape positions along a climatic gradient. Aust J Ecol 20:299–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lessard J-P, Sackett TE, Reynolds WN, Fowler DA, Sanders NJ (2011) Determinants of the detrital arthropod community structure: the effects of temperature and resources along an environmental gradient. Oikos 320:333–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Longino JT, Coddington J, Colwell RK (2002) The ant fauna of a tropical rainforest: estimating species richness three different ways. Ecology 83:689–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. MacArthur RH (1972) Geographical ecology: patterns in the distributions of species. Harper and Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. McCain CM (2005) Elevational gradients in diversity of small mammals. Ecology 86:366–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McCoy ED (1990) The distribution of insects along elevational gradients. Oikos 58:313–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Morse DH (1976) Variables affecting the density and territory size of breeding spruce-woods warblers. Ecology 57:290–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Novotny V, Basset Y (2000) Rare species in communities of tropical insect herbivores: pondering the mystery of singletons. Oikos 89:564–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oommen MA, Shanker K (2005) Elevational species richness patterns emerge from multiple local mechanisms in Himalayan woody plants. Ecology 86:3039–3047CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Price TD, Mohan D, Tietze DT, Hooper DM, Orme CDL, Rasmussen PC (2011) Determinants of northerly range limits along the Himalayan bird diversity gradient. Am Nat 178:S97–S108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Progar RA, Schowalter TD (2002) Canopy arthropod assemblages along a precipitation and latitudinal gradient among Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii forests in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Ecography 25:129–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ribeiro SP, Carneiro MAA, Frenandes GW (1998) Free-feeding insect herbivores along environmental gradients in Serra do Cipo: basis for a management plan. J Insect Conserv 2:107–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rosenzweig ML (1995) Species diversity in space and time. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Samson DA, Rickart EA, Gonzales PC (1997) Ant diversity and abundance along an elevational gradient in the Philippines. Biotropica 29:349–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sanders NJ, Lessard J-P, Fitzpatrick MC, Dunn RR (2007) Temperature, but not productivity or geometry, predicts elevational diversity gradients in ants across spatial grains. Global Ecol Biogeogr 16: 640–649Google Scholar
  32. Schowalter TD, Lightfoot DC, Whitford WG (1999) Diversity of arthropod responses to host-plant water stress in a desert ecosystem in southern New Mexico. Am Midl Nat 142:281–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Thomas JA, Moss D, Pollard E (1994) Increased fluctuations of butterfly populations towards the northern edges of species ranges. Ecography 17:215–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wolda H (1978) Seasonal fluctuations in rainfall, food and abundance of tropical insects. J Anim Ecol 47:369–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife Institute of IndiaDehradunIndia

Personalised recommendations