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Temporal changes in arthropod activity in tropical anthropogenic forests

  • G.-J. Brandon-Mong (a1) (a2), J.E. Littlefair (a3) (a4), K.-W. Sing (a5), Y.-P. Lee (a6) (a7), H.-M. Gan (a6) (a7) (a8), E.L. Clare (a3) and J.-J. Wilson (a9) (a10) (a11)...

Arthropod communities in the tropics are increasingly impacted by rapid changes in land use. Because species showing distinct seasonal patterns of activity are thought to be at higher risk of climate-related extirpation, global warming is generally considered a lower threat to arthropod biodiversity in the tropics than in temperate regions. To examine changes associated with land use and weather variables in tropical arthropod communities, we deployed Malaise traps at three major anthropogenic forests (secondary reserve forest, oil palm forest, and urban ornamental forest (UOF)) in Peninsular Malaysia and collected arthropods continuously for 12 months. We used metabarcoding protocols to characterize the diversity within weekly samples. We found that changes in the composition of arthropod communities were significantly associated with maximum temperature in all the three forests, but shifts were reversed in the UOF compared with the other forests. This suggests arthropods in forests in Peninsular Malaysia face a double threat: community shifts and biodiversity loss due to exploitation and disturbance of forests which consequently put species at further risk related to global warming. We highlight the positive feedback mechanism of land use and temperature, which pose threats to the arthropod communities and further implicates ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Consequently, conservation and mitigation plans are urgently needed.

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