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HISTORICAL CHANGES IN INSECT COMMUNITY STRUCTURE AS INDICATED BY HEXAPODS OF UPPER CRETACEOUS ALBERTA (GRASSY LAKE) AMBER

  • Edward M. Pike (a1)

Abstract

Species richness and relative abundance of arthropod taxa from an Upper Cretaceous (Campanian: 75 Mya) amber deposit in Alberta are described. About 130 hexapod species have been recognized to date from this deposit, making it the most diverse Cretaceous insect assemblage so far known. Taxa present, in order of abundance, are Hemiptera (66 specimens per kg), Diptera (28), Acari (21), Hymenoptera (13), Aranaea (12), Psocoptera (4), Coleoptera (2), Blattodea (1), Thysanoptera (1), and Trichoptera (0.6). Representatives of Lepidoptera, Collembola, Dermaptera, Mantodea, Phasmatodea, and Ephemeropteraare are also present. In the total of 65 identified families, 15 are extinct. Only one of about 77 genera identified in this deposit is extant. All recognized species are extinct. In comparison, virtually all families reported from Baltic and Dominican Republic ambers are extant, as are the majority of the genera. Morphology and feeding structures are well within the variation seen in modern insects. It is hypothesized that the taxonomic structure of modern insect communities was well established before the end of the Cretaceous and that the structure and interrelationships of insect guilds were also very similar to those of today.

La richesse en espèces et l’abondance relative des taxons d’arthropodes trouvés dans les dépots d’ambre du Crétacé supérieur (Campanien : il y a 75 millions d’années) en Alberta font l’objet de cette étude. Environ 130 espèces d’hexapodes ont été reconnues dans ces dépôts, ce qui représente l’association d’insectes la plus diversifiée jamais trouvée pour cette période. Les taxons présents, par ordre d’importance, sont les Hémiptères (66 spécimens/kg), les Diptères (28), les Acariens (21), les Hyménoptères (13), les Aranaea (12), les Psocoptères (4), les Coléoptères (2), les Blattodea (1), les Thysanoptères (1), les Trichoptères (0,6). Des représentants des groupes suivants sont également présents : Lépidoptères, Collemboles, Dermaptères, Mantodea, Phasmatodea, et Éphéméroptères. Parmi les 65 familles reconnues, 15 sont aujourd’hui disparues. Un seul des 77 genres identifiés existe encore. Toutes les espèces reconnues sont disparues. Par comparaison, il faut dire que presque toutes les familles rencontrées dans l’ambre de la Baltique ou de la République dominicaine sont encore existantes, de même que la majorité des genres. Les variations dans la morphologie et les structures reliées à l’alimentation correspondent à la variation observée chez les insectes modernes. Nous croyons que la structure taxonomique des communautés d’insectes modernes était déja établie avant la fin du Crétacé et que la structure et les relations entre les guildes d’insectes étaient à cette époque très semblables à celles qui prévalent aujourd’hui.

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