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Pitfall traps

August 27, 2010

Pitfall trap

Different collecting techniques are employed to target different groups of insects. Pitfall traps are pretty self explanatory. They consist of a plastic container placed into a pit dug with a hand trowel that insects may stumble and fall into. They are filled with about an inch of water mixed with dishwashing liquid. The soap is supposed to lessen the surface tension of the water so that insects that would normally be able to rest upon the surface tension would instead pierce the surface of the water, sink, and be caught. In reality, these pitfall traps may also catch flying insects: diptera (flies) and hymenoptera (bees and wasps). Other common catches include isopods (pill bugs), acari (spiders and mites), coleoptera (beetles), and hymenoptera (ants) to name a few.

Edge between forest and field

We placed pitfall traps in groups of three at each of the following three sites: forest edge, interior, and field (outside the forest). We are looking for trends in diversity (total number of orders) and abundance (numbers of individuals in each order). We hypothesize that the diversity and abundance would be highest in the forest interior followed by the edge and the field. However, our forest interior site is in the clearing where the church itself is situated. These forests may very well have two edges: an outer edge and an interior edge. Edges exist whenever there is a boundary between two contrasting environments. In this case, forest interior vs. man-made clearing.

A handful of team members will be addressing this question of edge using different experimental designs/sampling techniques. Stay posted for more.

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