Leaf litter inhabiting beetles as surrogates for establishing priorities for conservation of selected tropical montane cloud forests in Honduras, Central America (Coleoptera; Staphylinidae, Curculionidae)
Thirteen tropical montane cloud forests (TMCFs) in Honduras and adjacent El Salvador were evaluated for species diversity and endemism in leaf litter inhabiting Curculionidae (weevils) and Staphylinidae in June and August of 1994. Totals of 26,891 specimens representing 293 species of Curculionidae, and 7349 specimens representing 224 species of Staphylinidae, were collected. Regional endemism was high with 173 species (58.7% of total) of Curculionidae and 126 species (56.3% of total) of Staphylinidae, restricted to single sites. Measures of diversity (number of observed species [Sobs]; number of endemic species) and estimates of biodiversity (Chao 2, first and second order Jackknife and Bootstrap richness estimators) are given for each site for Curculionidae and Staphylinidae. Priority-areas analyses based on Sobs (‘Greedy’), Sobs, Chao 2, number of endemic species, site complementarity and higher taxonomic diversity (Curculionidae only) are presented. Weak or lack of correlation was noted between site area and site diversity for either Curculionidae or Staphylinidae. The optimum sequence for site conservation was determined based on Sobs (‘Greedy’). Four sites are identified as the highest conservation priorities; Parque Nacional Montecristo, P.N. La Muralla, P.N. Santa Barbara and P.N. Comayagua. Identification as high priority sites supports their designation as Parques Nacionales rather than the less diverse Reservas Biologias or Reservas Vidas Silvestres. While closely approximating performance of Sobs (‘Greedy’), no one of Sobs, number of endemics, Chao 2 or site complementarity give results equivalent to the optimum sequence based on Sobs (‘Greedy’) and the latter is concluded to be the best method for establishing conservation priorities in TMCF. Results of the analyses based on one of Curculionidae or Staphylinidae differ in the ordering of site priorities based on each of Sobs, Chao 2 or number of endemics at each site, with at best, weak positive correlations between results based on each taxon. Data from other taxa are necessary to determine if one of Curculionidae or Staphylinidae emerges as the better surrogate for general patterns of biodiversity in TMCF. Conservation strategies in Central America should emphasize the importance of TMCF particularly in view of high regional endemism. In formulating these strategies, consideration needs to be given to the preservation of many small regional preserves rather than fewer larger preserves. Data from inventories of other taxa should be included where available and all biological data should be integrated with social and cultural issues of regional importance.