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Ground-Dwelling Arthropods

Ground-Dwelling Arthropods

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Arthropods are an incredibly diverse group of organisms that includes insects, crustaceans, and arachnids among many others. This rich diversity and their relatively short life spans that may respond quickly to environmental change make this group of organisms well-suited to ecological monitoring. The CAP LTER has been collecting arthropods since 1998 using a simple but effective technique called pitfall trapping that entails capturing organisms that fall into plastic cups buried in the ground. Monitoring sites span a wide diversity of habitats throughout the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, including xeric and mesic residential yards, agricultural and commercial sites, native Sonoran desert, and desert preserves. Many of the sites are co-located with bird monitoring locations and/or Ecological Survey of Central Arizona (ESCA, formerly Survey 200) sampling locations, allowing investigators to leverage data from multiple monitoring efforts. Collections are conducted quarterly to provide data on seasonal dynamics, and the organisms are identified to the lowest possible taxonomic resolution (often to species) by the CAP LTER entomology lab. This program was augmented in 2002 by a separate but related effort through a collaboration with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Field Institute in which CAP LTER investigators and Field Institute stewards work together to collect traps installed at selected locations in the City of Scottsdale’s beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve. In addition to expanding the program into new Sonoran desert sites, the Preserve sampling employs a novel design intended to allow investigators to study the role of the urban-wildland interface on arthropod communities. The long-running arthropod monitoring program coupled with the more recent effort in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve are contributing to remarkable datasets that ecologists are employing to increase our understanding of the ecology of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and Sonoran desert.



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