New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1999) 23(1): 69- 79

A pragmatic approach to characterising insect communities in New Zealand: Malaise trapped beetles

Research Article
J. A. Hutcheson 1
M. O. Kimberley 2
  1. Forest Research Associates, P.O. Box 1031, Rotorua, New Zealand
  2. Forest Research, Private Bag 3020, Rotorua, New Zealand

Insect communities from a range of successional vegetation stages on the central North Island volcanic plateau were characterised and compared using Malaise trapped beetle samples. Results were derived from sampling series conducted in a total of ten sites over three separate summers. Divisive classification successfully grouped samples according to four main habitat types despite temporal and spatial separation of samples within these groups. A four-week period in early summer was found to be optimum for sample discrimination according to the main vegetation types. Component species and the functional (trophic) structure of samples showed a relationship with generic habitat types as well as reflecting attributes of the individual sites sampled. The most useful information was derived from the identity of the biological entities rather than simply from numerical relationships. Use of this pragmatic methodology has potential to improve our ecosystem understanding and the sustainable management of the dominant area of terrestrial biodiversity provided sufficient attention is given to standardisation, particularly of taxonomy.