Abundant, diverse, unknown: Extreme species richness and turnover despite drastic undersampling in two closely placed tropical Malaise traps

PLoS One. 2023 Aug 16;18(8):e0290173. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0290173. eCollection 2023.


Arthropods account for a large proportion of animal biomass and diversity in terrestrial systems, making them crucial organisms in our environments. However, still too little is known about the highly abundant and megadiverse groups that often make up the bulk of collected samples, especially in the tropics. With molecular identification techniques ever more evolving, analysis of arthropod communities has accelerated. In our study, which was conducted within the Global Malaise trap Program (GMP) framework, we operated two closely placed Malaise traps in Padang, Sumatra, for three months. We analyzed the samples by DNA barcoding and sequenced a total of more than 70,000 insect specimens. For sequence clustering, we applied three different delimitation techniques, namely RESL, ASAP, and SpeciesIdentifier, which gave similar results. Despite our (very) limited sampling in time and space, our efforts recovered more than 10,000 BINs, of which the majority are associated with “dark taxa”. Further analysis indicates a drastic undersampling of both sampling sites, meaning that the true arthropod diversity at our sampling sites is even higher. Regardless of the close proximity of both Malaise traps (< 360 m), we discovered significantly distinct communities.

PMID:37585425 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0290173


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