Abstract

The trunks of southeastern pines provide vital habitat for many invertebrates that are, in turn, available as prey for bark-foraging birds. Knowing how these arthropods are distributed vertically on tree trunks is important and may allow for a rapid assessment of prey response to forest management practices. In this study, we used a fast-acting insecticide to sample the arthropods on the lower (0–3 m) and upper (3–9 m) bole sections of nine loblolly pine, Pinus taeda L., trees. We collected over 1,600 arthropods representing 15 orders and 66 families. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) were the most abundant group collected, and wood cockroaches (Blattodea: Blattellidae) accounted for the greatest overall biomass. Abundance and biomass of arthropods per m2 were greater on the lower trunk, but these values were strongly correlated with those from the upper trunk. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling and permutational multivariate analysis of variance showed that arthropod community composition differed significantly between the two trunk positions. Additionally, indicator species analysis found four flightless taxa to be significantly associated with the lower trunk (Araneae, Zygentoma, Hymenoptera, and Pseudoscorpiones) but none with the higher trunk position. These findings show that bark-dwelling arthropods are generally more abundant near the bases of trees and that there is a strong relationship between abundance and biomass between lower and upper trunk sections. Knockdown insecticides offer an effective tool for rapidly assessing the availability of invertebrate prey for bark-foraging birds.

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