Diversity and faunal associations of forest canopy arthropods in the tropical forests of West Africa is virtually unknown and information concerning the ecology and description of these communities is lacking. Conservation of global biological diversity is a major environmental issue and this study area offers a unique opportunity to sample a tropical forest and answer basic questions concerned with arthropod biodiversity.
The reasons for maintaining biodiversity have been clearly identified and results from our previous canopy studies support the theory that a unique ancient forest insect community exists, with several new species that are specific to microhabitats within these forest ecosystems. This observation applies to both tropical and temperate forests. In addition, the canopy fauna seems to contain an unique set of individuals that have evolved to form a separate arboreal community.
The study at the Gabon site will offer an opportunity to see if the trends found in our previous research apply across a wide geographic region that include different forest mosaics. This canopy study represents the only tropical research on arboreal microarthropods from this area and will be used to form an integral part of an international network on global canopy studies that are concerned with documenting the diversity of microarthropods that are associated with suspended soils and canopy epiphytes.