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Data from: Structure and composition of a canopy-beetle community (Coleoptera) in a Neotropical lowland rainforest in southern Venezuela

Cite this dataset

Kirmse, Susan (2024). Data from: Structure and composition of a canopy-beetle community (Coleoptera) in a Neotropical lowland rainforest in southern Venezuela [Dataset]. Dryad.


Species richness, community structure, and taxonomic composition are important characteristics of biodiversity. Beetle communities show distinct diversity patterns according to habitat attributes. Tropical rainforest canopies, which are well known for their richness in Coleoptera, represent such a conspicuous life zone. Here, I describe a canopy-inhabiting beetle community associated with 23 tree species in a Neotropical lowland rainforest. Adult beetles were sampled manually and in aerial traps using a large tower crane for a cumulative year. The sample revealed 6738 adult beetles, which were assigned to 862 (morpho-)species in 45 families. The most species-rich beetle families were Curculionidae (n = 246), Chrysomelidae (n = 121), and Cerambycidae (n = 89). The most abundant families were Curculionidae (n = 2746) and Chrysomelidae (n = 1409). Dominant beetle families were found in most assemblages. The beetle community consisted of 400 singletons (46.4%). A similar proportion was evident for assemblages of single tree species. I found that 74.5% of all beetle species were restricted in their occurrence on host trees to the phenological season and time of the day. This daily and seasonal migration causes patterns similar to mass effects, and therefore accounts for the high proportion of singletons.

README: BeetleDiversityKirmseRAWDATA

The data file contains the number of adult beetles collected from 23 Amazonian canopy-tree species by means of a tower crane for a cumulative year between 1997 and 1999. Every adult beetle has been assigned to a family and (morpho-)species. Twenty-three tree species are listed with their associated beetle assemblages. The number of individuals per beetle species is separatly given for every of the 23 tree species.

Description of the data and file structure

The Excel-file lists all beetle individuals collected from the 23 canopy-tree species and is structured as follows:

The columns are entiled as follows:

Column 1: Beetle family

Column 2: Beetle species

Column 3: Tree species (indicating the start of the columns of the tree species; does not contain data)

Column 4: TG (Tachigali guianensis)

Column 5: MG (Matayba guianensis)

Column 6: HH (Hymenopus heteromorphus)

Column 7: CU (Couma utilis)

Column 8: DG (Dialium guianense)

Column 9: EA (Emmotum acuminatum)

Column 10: EP (Euterpe precatoria)

Column 11: FE (Ferdinandusa cf. elliptica)

Column 12: GS (Guatteria schomburgkiana)

Column 13: OB (Oenocarpus bacaba)

Column 14: PM (Pourouma melinonii)

Column 15: VV (Vochysia vismiifolia)

Column 16: XA (Xylopia amazonica)

Column 17: RG (Rhodostemonodaphne grandis)

Column 18: LH (Licania hebantha)

Column 19: MS (Moquilea subarachnophylla)

Column 20: QP (Qualea paraensis)

Column 21: OA (Ocotea aff. amazonica)

Column 22: PL (Podocalyx loranthoides)

Column 23: SS (Senna cf. silvestris)

Column 24: BP (Balizia pedicellaris)

Column 25: RT (Ruizterania trichanthera)

Column 26: GG (Goupia glabra)

Column 27: total number of individuals per beetle species

The rows contain the following data:

Row 1: headlines

Row 2-863: number of individuals per beetle species for each 23 tree species

Row 865: number of beetle species per tree species


The general beetle survey was conducted as part of the interdisciplinary research project "Towards an understanding of the structure and function of a Neotropical rainforest ecosystem with special reference to its canopy" organised by the Austrian Academy of Science. The cooperation with the Venezuelan government ended formally in 2000, as the political situation changed; therefore, the Surumoni crane project was closed. The beetle survey aimed to evaluate the association between adult beetles and their host trees over the course of a year. The field study was conducted between 1997 and 1999. Observations and collections of beetles comprised the following periods: September to November 1997; May to August and December 1998; January to April 1999, thus enabling data collection for a full cumulative year. Additional aerial trap collection targeting a single tree species was performed in October 1999.

The beetle survey includes 23 tree species representing 13 plant families in the upper (approximately 25–30 m height) and middle (approximately 18–25 m height) canopy: Annonaceae: Guatteria schomburgkiana Mart. and Xylopia amazonica R.E. Fr.; Apocynaceae: Couma utilis (Mart.) Müll. Arg.; Arecaceae: Euterpe precatoria Mart. and Oenocarpus bacaba; Chrysobalanaceae: Hymenopus heteromorphus (Benth.) Sothers and Prance, Licania hebantha Mart. ex Hook. f., and Moquilea subarachnophylla (Cuatrec.) Sothers and Prance; Fabaceae: Balizia pedicellaris (DC.) Barneby and J.W. Grimes, Dialium guianense, Senna cf. silvestris (Vell.) H. S. Irwin and Barneby, and Tachigali guianensis (Benth.) Zarucchi and Herend.; Goupiaceae: Goupia glabra.; Lauraceae: Ocotea aff. amazonica and Rhodostemonodaphne grandis (Mez) Rohwer; Metteniusaceae: Emmotum acuminatum (Benth.) Miers; Urticaceae: Pourouma melinonii Benoist; Picrodendraceae: Podocalyx loranthoides Klotzsch; Rubiaceae: Ferdinandusa cf. elliptica (Pohl) Pohl; Sapindaceae: Matayba guianensis Aubl.; Vochysiaceae: Qualea paraensis Ducke, Ruizterania trichanthera, and Vochysia vismiifolia Spruce ex Warm.

The trees selected for the canopy-beetle survey were either completely free from epiphytes and lianas or bore only small to minimise errors in beetle-host associations. Parts of the tree crowns sampled comprised leaves, small twigs, flowers, and fruits. The selected trees were regularly searched for Coleoptera during the day and night. Each one individual of every tree species was controlled once per week for adult beetles. Four tree species were monitored every second day. This also applies to other tree species during distinct phenological seasons, such as flowering or leaf flush. A detailed description of the study design has been published in Kirmse (in prep.). Depending on the number of crown-associated beetles, the sampling time per tree crown was approximately 30 min from one gondola position.

The observed beetles were captured by net, hand, or branch and foliage beating. However, these collection methods were not structured to provide quantitative data. To obtain standardised semi-quantitative sampling results, aerial traps were used to collect flying beetles [57]. These flight interception traps consisted of two clear acrylic panels fixed in a cross, each with a length of 30 cm and a height of 25 cm. A plastic tube, ending in a container, was placed beneath the cross. The container was filled with water mixed with surface-tension-diminishing detergent. The insects trapped in the containers were removed every second day. In addition to hand and trap collection, some adult beetles were collected that were attracted to a spotlight used to enable observations at night.


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