Drivers of Ichneumonid wasp richness in a tropical Biodiversity Hotspot

Project: Research project (funded)Research

Project Details


1. To make extensive, replicated, and standardized collections of ichneumonid wasps over a wide range of altitudes, and consequent climatic and vegetation types, at Serra dos Órgãos National Park, Brazil.
2. To identify these specimens as far as taxonomically feasible within the time-frame of the project, and at least to subfamily and morphospecies, and to deposit representative specimens in publically accessible collections for future taxonomic work.
3. To train a PhD student in a range of scientific and transferable skills, and afford them valuable experience related to the project in order to enhance their prospects of a future career in research or elsewhere.
4. To critically analyze the data in (2) to test the following hypotheses and publish the results in high impact international journals.
1. That the local species richness of ichneumonids is high relative to other comparable studies in tropical and temperate regions (see e.g. Veijalainen 2012, Sääksjärvi et al. 2004).
2. That koinobiont subfamilies (e.g. Anomaloninae, Banchinae, Cremastinae, Orthocentrinae) generally thought to have low richness in the tropics, are amongst the most abundant and species-rich ichneumonid subfamilies collected (e.g. Veijalainen et al. 2012).
3. That ichneumonid species richness is correlated with habitat structural diversity (e.g. Fraser et al. 2007, Saaksjaarvi et al. 2006).
4. That ichneumonid species richness is highest at mid-elevations or high elevations (e.g. Veijalainen et al. 2012), and that assemblages turn over more between locations at different altitudes than between locations of the same altitude.
5. That ichneumonid species richness is highest in warmer and wetter environments along an altitudinal gradient, reflecting species-energy theory.
6. That local plant structural diversity are more important determinants of ichneumonid species richness than local climate or altitude per se. It is not clear whether to expect climate, altitude or vegetation to be better local predictors of richness, but our data will enable us to ask this question for the first time.
7. That the relationships described in 1, 3-6 are different for different subtaxa of Ichneumonidae.
Effective start/end date1/09/1431/08/17