The Boston Harbor Islands Terrestrial Invertebrate ATBI

Jessica Rykken
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 496-1221
e-mail author


Delivered at the 2011 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium

Primary research objectives of the Boston Harbor Islands All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory were to: (1) catalog the diversity of arthropods in the park; (2) describe patterns of species richness and community similarity across islands; and (3) compare patterns of exotic and native species. Nine islands were sampled intensively using various passive traps, with additional active sampling on more islands yielding a total of 1,547 separate sampling events. From these samples we catalogued more than 70,000 specimens, comprising 1,750 species in 24 orders. Analyses of six focal taxa, representing a range of functional groups and dispersal abilities, revealed a positive relationship between island size and species richness for most taxa; habitat diversity also appeared to be an important factor. The six taxa varied considerably in community similarity across islands, with strong fliers showing more similarity than sedentary species. For two beetle taxa, the proportion of exotic species was approximately twice that on the mainland, and exotic species were, on average, more widely dispersed across islands than natives. The ATBI has documented several new species introductions to North America, and many new regional records for native insects, showing that focused biodiversity surveys in small, urban parks can make discoveries of great value within and beyond park boundaries.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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