Arthropod diversity associated with fallen logs and woody litter on the forest floor on a small Seychelles island.
Cousine Island, Seychelles, is of major conservation significance as it is relatively pristine, and apparently the only tropical island over 20 ha with no alien invasive mammals. Such mammals, especially rodents, can impact substantially on arthropod faunas. This study focuses on the arthropods of the island that live in fallen logs and litter. The dominant log species are Pisonia grandis (Summerhayes, 1932), Ficus spp. and Cocos nucifera (Linnaeus, 1952). Stage of decomposition and forest type in which the logs occurred significantly influenced the composition and structure of the assemblages. Young logs were significantly richer in species than older logs, possibly due to the greater resources and more varied microhabitats in the younger logs. Log type was also important for arthropod species richness and abundance. Although P. grandis and Ficus spp. logs did not differ significantly, these two log types did differ greatly from C. nucifera which had a higher arthropod species richness, composition and abundance. However, these differences were only significant for recently fallen logs. As the logs decayed, their arthropod assemblages converged. Nevertheless, each log type had some arthropod species not present in another log type. This is important in terms of conservation, especially in the case of C. nucifera, which, according to one school of thought, should be removed from some Seychelles islands as it is considered an alien invasive. Arthropod assemblages in woody litter differed in composition depending on forest type in which they occurred. These woody litter assemblages were generally dissimilar to those in logs in the same forest type. Leaf litter was extremely poor in arthropod species. Species richness, both in logs and litter, was comparable to figures from temperate lands, possibly because the rich, topical fauna was ameliorated by small island size. As the logs are home to several Seychelles endemic species, their conservation is essential. Furthermore, as they are also the food base of certain threatened Seychelles vertebrates, their conservation is about conservation of a food chain on this unique tropical island.