„Leaf-beetle diversity (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in a tropical montane rainforest in Ecuador“
The project is part of the DFG-funded project ABA Ecuador („Acceleration of biodiversity assessment ─ Development of tools and application in a tropical mountain ecosystem“) with the aim of assessing and analysing the diversity of different organisms using DNA-barcoding.
Worldwide habitats are destroyed with alarming rates, and especially in the tropical rainforests many species disappear before even being discovered by science. Therefore it is important to rapidly assess the diversity, especially of hyperdiverse taxa such as insects. The Ecuadorian Tropical Andes belong to one of the so-called biodiversity hotspots, regions harbouring an extremely rich biodiversity. The study area of the project is within Podocarpus National Park in southern Ecuador, in the east slopes of the Andes.
The project ABA-CHRYS studies the biodiversity of leaf-beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), one of the largest families of insects: We want to test how DNA barcoding performs in estimating an unknown insect diversity. COI sequences will be used to delimit species-like units. Those units can be used to infer diversity patterns even without being taxonomically identified or described. Especially differences in diversity along an altitudinal gradient will be aimed at. The real species richness is supposed to far exceed the number of already known species. Barcoding may accelerate the discovery of new species and help to detect cryptic species.
Research station ECSF (Estción Científica San Francisco) in Podocarpus National Park, Ecuador
A leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae) from Podocarpus National Park