Vast Diversity of Arthropods in Small Patch of Rain Forest
Though birds, trees, and orchids call the tropical rain forest home, they are immensely outnumbered by tiny arthropods, such as insects, spiders and millipedes. In the past, scientists had trouble estimating how many arthropods exist in the vastness of a forest. But thanks to new methods of sampling and analysis, researchers now think that over 25,000 different species of arthropods live in just one forest.
These findings are part of Project IBISCA-Panama, an extensive survey of arthropods in Panama’s San Lorenzo forest supported by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The study, published in the journal Science, revealed that an estimated 25,000 species of arthropods exist in the 6,000-hectare forest. By tallying these small organisms, researchers hope to get a better grasp of their many roles in the rain forest ecosystem.