Differences in Morphometry and Activity among Tabanid Fly Assemblages in an Andean Tropical Montane Cloud Forest: Indication of Altitudinal Migration?

Rafael E. Cárdenas, Nathalia Hernández-L, Álvaro R. Barragán, Olivier Dangles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evidence suggests that variations along ecological gradients shape organism traits such as behavior or morphometry. We studied the effect of altitude on the flight activity of tropical tabanid fly assemblages of one species of Stypommisa Enderlein along a 1 km altitudinal gradient on the northwestern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes. Our objectives were as follows: (1) to test the hypothesis that highland individuals present larger flight body structures; and (2) to compare the flight activity patterns of flies' assemblages among altitudes and correlate it with weather factors. We sampled specimens in Malaise traps at 1180, 1680 and 2180 m of altitude from 0600 to 1830 h for 20 d at each site. Seven weather variables were measured every hour and flight activity was inferred from relative tabanid fly abundances/hour in traps. We measured morphometrical parameters that included tabanid fly body size, thorax volume, wing area and wing loading. Flight activity patterns revealed a bimodal distribution at 1680 m, and two asynchronous unimodal distributions, one at 1180 and one at 2180 m. GLM analyses revealed that temperature, mist and rainfall were the best predictors of fly activity differences among altitudes. Morphometrical analyses showed that body size and thorax volume increased with increasing altitude. Synchronous groups of flies at different altitudes (those between 1180-1680(pm) m, and 1680(am)-2180 m) were morphologically similar, suggesting that flies could be capable of migrating from highlands to lowlands at defined hours of the day depending on forest weather conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalBiotropica
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Altitude
  • Ecuador
  • Flight behavior
  • Los Cedros
  • Mist
  • Weather variables

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