Insect Ecology Group
Dr Jake Snaddon
Personal Website: www.jlsnaddon.com
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function within Bird's Nest Ferns
By intercepting and retaining moisture and leaf litter, epiphytic Bird's Nest Ferns, (Asplenium nidus, complex), provide an ideal habitat for litter arthropods within the rainforest canopy, forming reservoirs of biodiversity. Using the ferns as natural microcosms, my research focuses on how the arthropod and leaf litter diversities affect ecosystem processes such as decomposition. The fieldwork is carried out in the primary forest, logged-over forest and oil palm plantations in the vicinity of Danum Valley Field Centre, Sabah, Malaysia.
Arthropod Communities of Fungal Litter-Trapping Systems
The occurrence of leaf litter within the canopy is generally thought of as intermittent and transient, usually being associated with tree branches, large epiphytes and litter-trapping treelets and palms. Fungal litter-trapping systems are overlooked as contributors to canopy litter, yet they can retain more leaf litter than other systems, conservative estimates being around 100 kg/ha. They are most abundant in the first five meters of the forest understorey though they have been recorded up to heights of around fifteen metres in the canopy. These systems occur globally in moist tropical forest regions. Forming a network of dark thread-like rhizomorphs (a dense mass of hyphae) that attach to living vegetation the rhizomorph systems capture and securely retain falling leaf litter on its decent to the forest floor. Results from our study in Sabah, Malaysia, show that fungi are active in the decomposition of the trapped litter and that these little-studied systems provide a valuable resource for a decomposer arthropod community within the forest canopy.
Snaddon, J.L. & Turner, E.C. 'A Child's Eye View of the Insect World: Modern Culture Versus Nature on Perceptions of Insect Diversity.' Environmental Conservation. In review.
Snaddon, J.L. & Foster, W.A. 'Biodiversity Hanging by a Thread: Arthropod Communities Associated with Leaf-Litter trapped by Fungal Rhizomorphs.' In preparation.