Arthropods in modern resins reveal if amber accurately recorded forest arthropod communities
Published on Jun 26, 2018in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 9.50
· DOI :10.1073/pnas.1802138115
Amber is an organic multicompound derivative from the polymerization of resin of diverse higher plants. Compared with other modes of fossil preservation, amber records the anatomy of and ecological interactions between ancient soft-bodied organisms with exceptional fidelity. However, it is currently suggested that ambers do not accurately record the composition of arthropod forest paleocommunities, due to crucial taphonomic biases. We evaluated the effects of taphonomic processes on arthropod entrapment by resin from the plant Hymenaea , one of the most important resin-producing trees and a producer of tropical Cenozoic ambers and Anthropocene (or subfossil) resins. We statistically compared natural entrapment by Hymenaea verrucosa tree resin with the ensemble of arthropods trapped by standardized entomological traps around the same tree species. Our results demonstrate that assemblages in resin are more similar to those from sticky traps than from malaise traps, providing an accurate representation of the arthropod fauna living in or near the resiniferous tree, but not of entire arthropod forest communities. Particularly, arthropod groups such as Lepidoptera, Collembola, and some Diptera are underrepresented in resins. However, resin assemblages differed slightly from sticky traps, perhaps because chemical compounds in the resins attract or repel specific insect groups. Ground-dwelling or flying arthropods that use the tree-trunk habitat for feeding or reproduction are also well represented in the resin assemblages, implying that fossil inclusions in amber can reveal fundamental information about biology of the past. These biases have implications for the paleoecological interpretation of the fossil record, principally of Cenozoic amber with angiosperm origin.