Seasonal and Periodical Assessment of the Abundance and Diversity of Epigaeic Invertebrates in an Urban Forest Remnant, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Urban Forest (UF) refers to a complex human-environment system encompassing urban and peri-urban vegetation such as gardens, rivers and coastal corridors, and uninhabited yards. Human beings benefit from a healthy UF in a variety of ways such as recreation, disasters management, and the lessening of the effects of environmental deterioration (caused by the ongoing anthropogenic activities) like air pollution and ozone concentration affecting many epigaeic fauna. Epigaeic Invertebrates (EIs) are above ground foraging or litter dwelling invertebrates carrying important roles in UFs ecosystems such as ecosystem engineers and pests’ natural enemies. The present study assessed the influence of dry and wet seasons and different periods of a day (morning, afternoon, and evening hours) towards the abundance and diversity of ground dwelling invertebrates around urban forest remnant in Dar es salaam city, Tanzania. Data collection used pitfall trap, baited traps, and dry leaf litter sifting methods. A total of 10,363 EIs individuals were collected with 133 morpho species, 87 families and 18 orders (Hymenoptera dominated by 71.4%). Wet season had significantly higher abundance (6,360 individuals with 121 morpho species) than dry season (4,003 individuals and 88 morpho species), possibly due to the higher availability of food resources during rainy times. However, quite unexpectedly dry season had higher species diversity, probably due to the over dominance of a very aggressive Formicidae species in wet season that displaced some intolerable species. Also, the overall variations of species diversity and abundance between morning, afternoon, and evening hours were significantly different but higher in the morning. This suggested that EIs were active at different times of the day but were more attracted to the morning sunshine and decreased as the land became hotter. This study depicts urban forests to be among world ecosystems with relatively high levels of EIs biodiversity and hence an urgent call for their conservation efforts before it is too late.
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