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That’s what we are looking for: Dead wood beetles

Material, stacked in the cellar

The highlight before running to a new trap: check the collected insects

Flight interception traps hanging on a plot

FIT? – Yes, Flight Interception Traps for fieldwork!

That’s what we are looking for: Dead wood beetles

In this first round of PhDs we have many different taxa to study: plants, epiphytes, parasitic wasps, dead wood beetles, bats and birds. One of the great task we have within ConFoBi is to assess species diversity on 135 plots. The two PhD students, working on insects, have the great pleasure to work closely together and reduce the workload by sharing traps.

Two Flight Interception Traps (FITs) need to be installed in each hectare plot. As always, this sounds easier than it is. In fact, this simple sounding task requires a lot of planning and hard work. From designing the traps, ordering material, building and installing the traps in the field, we have been keeping busy. Without many assistants, we would still be sitting in the dark cellar, building traps. Fortunately, all except of a few are now hanging in the plots.

The traps hang on a clothes line between two trees. Yet in order to get to this step, picture this scenario: you’re looking at the tree. Yes, of course you can pass the line from one hand to the other around the tree, without walking around.... until you realize your arms are not long enough. You try a little harder, hopping that your arms grow a few centimeters, and are able to pass the line around. You try and try and then you realize: you’re just hugging a tree… and that you’ll never going to pass the line around. Finally we understand, where the stereotype that field biologist are tree huggers comes from.

Now that most traps are set, we have the exciting task of collecting the trapped insects each month. This is where our job gets even more time-consuming. Every four weeks we exchange the sampling solution , bringing the collected insects to the lab to sort them into the order of Hymenoptera or Coleoptera.

The first round of exchanging sampling solution is nearly done. Every time we administer the traps we check what kind of insect are in the bottles. We don’t usually have a lot of time to study the collected insects, but for us entomologists, it is always a highlight before running to tend to the the next trap…

by Nathalie Wininger (B4)