BIODIVERSITY SAMPLING FOR COLEOPTERA IN COSTA RICA:
A PARATAXONOMIST'S MANUAL FOR COLLECTING, REARING AND PREPARING BEETLES

 

Paul J. Johnson,

South Dakota State University,

 

Rob Roughley,

University of Manitoba,

 

Darren A. Pollock,

University of Manitoba

 

and

 

Angel Solís,

Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad

 

 

Introduction

Chapter 1 - Planning a Sampling Program

Chapter 2 - Field Kit for Beetle Collectors

Basic Field Kit Items

Specialty Field Kit Items

Basic Specimen Preparation Items

Chapter 3 - Aquatic habitats

Aquatic habitats and associated collecting techniques

Methods

Passive collecting
Terrestrial light traps

Aquatic light traps

Bottle traps

Active collecting

Net collecting

Shore collecting

Aquatic plants and other benthic substrates

Hand-collecting

Insecticide sprays

Chapter 4 - Terrestrial habitats

Methods
Searching

Netting

Beating

Barking

Sifting and berlese

Malaise traps

Flight intercept traps (FITs)

Multiple (Lindgren) funnel traps

Pitfall traps

Baiting

Lighting

Comments on other methods

Habitats

Forests
Canopy

Boles (dead tree parts)

Litter and soil

Savannas and pastures

Paramo

Playas

Fungi and slime molds

Carrion and dung

Flowers and fruits

Epiphytes

Algae, mosses, and lichens

Additional and alternative collecting methods and habitats

Mountain tops

Street lights and windows

Garbage cans

Chapter 5 - Beetle Immatures

Collecting

Preservation

Rearing

Chapter 6 - Specimen Preparation

Killing

Pinning

Pointing

Relaxing

Spreading and Arrangement

Labelling

Liquid Preservation

 Acknowledgements

References

 

 

Introduction

 

The purpose of this manual is to explain various ways of collecting, sampling, and preparing beetles within a given area. Take this booklet into the field. It is provided to you as a reference, as a reminder, and something to use as a guide for improving your abilities and successes in the field. All comments are designed to assist a parataxonomist to enter an area and to set up their field work efficiently and effectively.

We describe a set of methods for collecting and some of the ways in which these can be done. We have tried to give a brief explanation of each technique, to describe things that can go wrong with (based on our experience) or things to consider for with any given technique.

This manual is designed for the purpose of supporting a biological diversity inventory effort. Since such surveys are intended to maximize species presence knowledge of biotas, there is no concern for quantitative sets of data. Consequently, the methods and protocols discussed are those for qualitative biodiversity assessments, only. Quantitative sampling for explicit ecological goals are modifications of the methods described herein and should be separately reviewed and evaluated. The question of sampling periods is meaningless for a biodiversity inventory when the effort is intended to document all species, particularly when many species are new to science and unknown for conservation purposes. Since rare or seasonal species are differentially sampled from area to area, season to season, and method to method, only a continuing effort, and patience, will produce acceptable results.

The question of numbers of individuals for adequately representing a species must be answered on a species by species and site by site basis. Most beetles possess inherent levels of morphological variation that requires adequate specimens numbers of assessment, particularly with a largely unknown fauna that contains numerous similar species. Specimen samples reflecting geographic diversity are necessary to provide information on distribution, species boundaries, and species changes through differing habitats and over geographic space. Similarly, specimens samples from various seasons are necessary for documenting activity periods and seasonal species turnover. Basically, no one species in any given life stage is active year-around, in all seasonal various, over all geographic space, or expresses monotonous structure. If a decision must be made to limit sampling on logistical or fiscal criteria, exclusive of good science, then the program may be compromised. Thus, all inventory limiting decisions should be made with the appropriate considerations.

 

CHAPTER 1

PLANNING A SAMPLING

 A well thought plan for inventory projects is necessary for success. Here is a step-wise suggestion of actions and considerations when establishing an inventory routine. This is not an absolute plan, but recommendation of primary considerations. Each parataxonomist must evaluate every inventory area separately and make appropriate modification as conditions require.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the local roads, trails and other accesses.
  2. Survey the area of interest. Walk the area and learn about it by surveying the entire area. It should become very familiar to you.
  3. Note special area features and habitats, and locate each on a map.
  4. Identify aquatic habitats and microhabitats of interest; specifically note locations and accessibility of cataracts, seeps, springs, bogs, and other special sites.
  5. Locate areas of habitats containing a concentration of other microhabitats, such as stumps of various ages and stages of decomposition, logs, and snags, and select microhabitats for sequential or frequent sampling.
  6. Decide which traps, if any, to use in each habitat, or which habitats will receive special emphasis or focus.
  7. Design a schedule for visiting and maintaining traps, as well as general sampling. These could be fairly detailed but at the very least they should contain information about daily activities, e.g. Monday - morning -- service pitfall traps on El Tigre trail (need to take along a jug of collecting fluid, strainer, and alcohol), afternoon -- beating palm flowers and general collecting on Guacamole Highlands, evening - light trapping at hacienda.
  8. Set all traps according to work schedule.
  9. Use work schedule to maintain regular visits to traps and ensure both opportunistic and planned sampling at a variety of sites.
  10. Always be flexible in scheduling and taking advantage of opportunities. Sampling different habitats at differing times and conditions is more important than maintaining an absolutely regular trap maintenance schedule. Be aware and take advantage of opportunities for collecting rare or unusual taxa. Give yourself plenty of time to do the best job possible, not the quickest. Quality of specimens and accuracy and accuracy of data, not volume of specimens, is extremely important.
  11. Sampling stops only when all species are inventoried.

 

CHAPTER 2

FIELD KIT FOR BEETLE COLLECTORS

Every parataxonomist or other person planning to conduct fieldwork on a biological diversity inventory needs to have an assortment of basic equipment and supplies. These materials are essential for satisfactory collection and retention of specimens. Also, the parataxonomist must always be prepared for at least preliminary and temporary protection and preservation of specimens in the field. Since the methods and treatment of collecting and preserving specimens is critical to subsequent study, we strongly encourage each collector to develop habits that will ensure proper treatment of specimens, including consideration of eventual preparation by pinning or permanent preservation in alcohol solutions. Use of appropriate techniques will ensure easier and scientifically appropriate subsequent preparation by the parataxonomist, or others, for accurate identification, DNA analysis, bioprospecting, taxonomic research, or other needs.

 
Parataxonomist and field laboratory

BASIC FIELD KIT ITEMS

The basic field kit for every parataxonomist should have a sufficient supply of the following items for each field trip. The following list is organized as a checklist.

  1. Collecting nets - aerial net - sweep net - aquatic net
  2. Beating sheet
  3. Aspirator ["Lewinsky"]
  4. Notebook
  5. Maps (with trails, roads, longitude, latitude and elevation)
  6. Collecting bottles - assortment of sizes
  7. Alcohol vials - assortment of sizes
  8. Plastic bags/whirlpaks - assortment of sizes
  9. Forceps - 2 each of fine-tipped, 1 each of soft-tipped
  10. Knife - folding combination knife, or users choice
  11. Machete or hatchet - users choice
  12. Headlamp or flashlight, with extra batteries
  13. Insect repellant
  14. Preservatives
  15. Alcohol, 70-75% - ca. 200 ml
  16. Acetic alcohol (70% ethanol with 5% acetic acid) - ca. 100 ml
  17. First aid kit
Aquatic net
Aerial net
Notebook
 
 Alcohol vials
Beating sheet
Headlamp
Forceps
Knife and Machete
Hatchet
Aspirator or "Lewinsky"
Maps
Sweep net

 

SPECIALTY FIELD KIT ITEMS

 

Additional items are recommended for specialty collecting or to improve data and specimen collection. Such items include:

  1. Pyrethroid-based insect spray (permethrin is usable, but not prefered)
  2. Plastic containers for live specimens
  3. Plastic trays for sorting
  4. Small screens/sieves
  5. Trowel
  6. Mesh bags
  7. KAA solution [see Ch. 6]
  8. GPS device
  9. Portable stove
  10. Small pot
  11. Light trap and accessories
  12. Sifting apparatus
  13. Malaise trap and accessories
  14. Flight intercept traps and accessories
  15. Extraction funnels and accessories
  16. Pitfall trap materials
  17. Other traps and accessories as desired or needed

 

Flight intercept trap
Malaise trap
Sifting apparatus
A model using a sifting apparatus
Extraction funnels

 

BASIC SPECIMEN PREPARATION ITEMS

Certain items are needed for preparation and identification of specimens at a field site. Selected items are listed below.

  1. Insect pins (several hundred each of #2, #3, & minutin pins)
  2. Stereomicroscope and light source
  3. Magnifying lenses
  4. Spreading boards
  5. Styrofoam for pinning and spreading
  6. Points
  7. Glue (shellac glue, gelva, white glue or clear nailpolish)
  8. Pinning block
  9. Labelling pen or pencil
  10. Scissors
  11. Label paper
  12. Forceps
  13. Specimen boxes
  14. Specimen drying area or apparatus
  15. Strong cord or thin rope
  16. Clothes pins
  17. Plastic bags with leak-proof closures

 

 

Magnifying lenses
Stereomicroscope and light source
Glue
Insect pins
Points and Pinning blocks
Point punch
Forceps

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