Terrestrial insects of los angeles: The great frontier
The Los Angeles Basin is a geographically rich area that includes desert, marine, estuarine, riparian, chaparral, oak forest, pine forest, desert and concrete habitats — all in close proximity. Despite the richness that converges on the basin, the entomological fauna of the area is massively understudied. To fill this knowledge gap, researchers at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) have launched BioSCAN (Biodiversity Science: City and Nature), a survey of the entomological fauna of Los Angeles across disparate neighborhoods, spanning the Los Angeles River. The approach couples observed biodiversity with physical and landscape measures of urbanization (microclimate data, amount of hardscape, proximity to water sources, etc.) in a three-year, thirty site study using Malaise traps in citizen backyards.
All thirty BioSCAN Malaise traps have been deployed since January 2014. Thirty samples per week are being processed for study. A major focus of study is Phoridae, a family of small flies with a short range and lifespan, giving researchers a fine-grained approach to neighborhood-scale analysis. A surprising number of both introduced and new species have already been discovered, and ecological analysis is forthcoming. The use of Malaise traps weights sampling heavily towards Diptera and Hymenoptera; future studies will have to use other sampling techniques to target groups undercaptured by this method. Additional studies on insect fauna of the L.A. River watershed will need to be done along a greater length of the river areas that have and have not been targeted for natural restoration. Longitudinal studies will be needed to track the biodiversity effects of restoration.