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Faunistic patterns of leaf beetles (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae) within elevational and temporal gradients in Sierra de San Carlos, Mexico.

Sánchez-Reyes, U. J. ; Niño-Maldonado, S. ; Barrientos-Lozano, L. ; Clark, S. M. ; Jones, R. W.

ZooKeys 2016 No. No.611 pp. 11-56;


The study of biodiversity of Chrysomelidae in Mexico and its variation within ecological gradients has increased recently, although important areas in the country remain to be explored. We conducted a faunistic inventory and analyzed the elevational and temporal variation of leaf beetle communities in the Sierra de San Carlos, in the state of Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico. This is an area with high to extreme priority for conservation, and due to its insular geographical position and to the vegetational communities present, it must be considered as a sky island. We selected seven sample sites distributed in different elevations within three localities, and comprising different vegetational communities. At each site, we randomly delimited 12 sample plots of 400 m2 where sampling was conducted by entomological sweep netting and collecting directly by hand. Sampling was conducted monthly at each plot, for a total of 1,008 samples between February 2013 and January 2014. By the end of the study, we had obtained a total of 3,081 specimens belonging to six subfamilies, 65 genera, and 113 species, with Trichaltica scabricula (Crotch, 1873) being recorded for first time in Mexico. Species richness was less than the values observed at other studies conducted in the same region, which is attributed to differences in the number of plant species and to the insular location of Sierra de San Carlos; however, the higher diversity values suggest a higher quality of natural resources and vegetational communities. No consistent pattern of leaf beetle communities was correlated with elevation, although higher values of species richness and diversity were obtained at the highest elevation site. The seasonal gradient showed that the rainy season is most favorable for leaf beetle communities. We found that species composition was different between sites and months, and also that there exists a significant association between the abundance obtained at each site and particular months. These results highlight the importance of different microhabitats for species distribution, and suggest that each species of Chrysomelidae has a differential response to environmental factors that vary within the elevational gradient and according to seasons. Also, we confirm and emphasize the important status of Sierra de San Carlos as a key natural area for biological conservation.