Epigean Insects of Chañaral Island (Pingüino de Humboldt National Reserve, Atacama, Chile)

The Pingüino de Humboldt National Reserve in Chile is an area of biodiversity conservation in arid island ecosystems. The reserve is located both in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions and is composed of the Choros (29º 15' S, 71º 32' W), Damas (29º 13' S, 71º 31' W) and Chañaral (29°02' S, 71°36' W) islands. Pitfall traps were used to study the taxonomic diversity of epigean insects in Chañaral Island. The study area was divided into 3 vegetationally contrasting ecotopes: E1 represented by a subdesert steppe, E2 represented by a xeric shrubland and E3 represented by a xeric shrub steppe. A total of 730 specimens were captured, belonging to 40 species arranged in 34 genera and 17 families. Four insect orders were recorded, of which the most diverse were Coleoptera, with 29 species, and Hymenoptera, with 7 species. Coleoptera was the most represented group, with 24 genera grouped in 11 families. The richest families were Curculionidae (9 species) and Tenebrionidae (8 species). The highest species richness was recorded in E1 (28 species), followed by E2 (21 species) and E3 (19 species). The number of exclusive species varied between habitats, with E1 showing the highest number (14), and E2 and E3 being represented by 5 and 3 species, respectively. On the other hand, 10 species were common to all three sampled sites. The differences in vegetation between the sites were clearly reflected in the relative abundance and species richness of epigean insects. We did not record the presence of Gryiosomus granulipennis, an endemic species of Choros Island, which confirms that this species is restricted to a specific area of the reserve. This work is the first biological inventory of epigean insects on Chañaral Island.

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