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Student Research Projects

Activity Patterns of Two Species of Neotropical Harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones) from Costa Rica

Student Ryan R. Wade
Ednidia Loaiza Phillips
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Victor Townsend
Department Biology
Course BIO 375: Topics in Tropical Biology

Abstract

Natural history studies serve as important foundations for future investigations of behavioral ecology and provide biologists with critical information needed for the development of empirical research programs. Relatively little is known about the biology of most species of Neotropical harvestmen in Central America. In this field study, we investigated the activity patterns of two common species Cynorta marginalis (Cosmetidae) and Prionostemma sp. (Sclerosomatidae) in a wet tropical forest in Costa Rica. We used visual encounter surveys along randomly selected transects to compare the relative abundance of these species during morning, afternoon, evening and late night sampling periods. To generate ethograms, we observed up to three individuals of each species for 10 min along each transect, generating 69 behavioral observations for C. marginalis and 51 for Prionostemma. Both species occupy perches on vegetation and are generally nocturnal with respect to activity. After dusk, individuals of C. marginalis actively climb, interact with conspecifics, and forage on the surfaces of small and large trees. During the day, Prionostemma forms relatively inactive clusters of up to 40 individuals on arboreal perches and descends to the leaf litter after dusk to forage.

Grants

Science Undergraduate Research Travel Award

Conferences

National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Mar 31-April 2, Ithaca, NY

 

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