The distribution of organisms in a tropical forest is highly heterogeneous in time and space. The response to a given ecological factor (e.g. humidity, temperature) depends of the organism considered.
Therefore the IBISCA-approach is:
We concentrate our efforts on a selection of taxa covering a wide spectrum of ecological functions (e.g. predation, decomposition, pollination).
A wide spectrum of habitats and micro-habitats are considered during our sampling programmes. A particular attention is given to the forest canopy despite its difficulty of access. In some projects samplings are conducted along altitudinal gradients.
We rely on various protocols because each collection method only capture a fraction of the species present in the habitat.
To maximize the information obtained, all collections by the different methods are made at the time and site, and replicated in time and space. At the end all the results are gathered in a common database.
The IBISCA approach aims to motivate scientists to work on integrative projects, and is less an inventory per se. IBISCA has set a new ‘industry standard’ involving team work (taxonomists, ecologists, students, parataxonomists), international collaboration and complimentary skills, both in the field and laboratory.
Our strategy aims at:
- Get baseline data on particular key topics such as the spatio-temporal distribution of arthropods and vascular plants (e.g. IBISCA-Panama 2003-2004); food web structure ; assessing the relationships between biodiversity and forest process; etc.
- Collaborating with existing or future inventory programmes of large scope.
- Developing tools and protocols to efficiently study habitats where most of undescribed biodiversity resides, the upper canopy of tropical rainforests. These habitats are also the most difficult to access within tropical forests.
- Refining inventory methods and protocols to efficiently survey biodiversity, coupled with the use of new molecular techniques such as DNA barcoding.
- Improving our ability to quickly and efficiently process biodiversity samples (e.g. work with parataxonomists, skilled naturalist, supervised students)
- Developing efficient protocols for a vast array of diverse tropical habitats.
- Establishing cost-effective tools and protocols to monitor the response of biodiversity to forest disturbance and climate change.
We prepare for the near future various pilot-studies covering these different aspects.