Museum entomologists are working with Marine Corps staff on Camp Pendleton, a relatively isolated and underdeveloped area that retains an incredible amount of biodiversity, in order to study insects and spiders in six vegetation communities (dune, estuary, coastal sage scrub, riparian woodland, perennial grassland, and chaparral).
Insects and spiders are critical to ecosystem health, but poorly documented in Southern California natural habitats. Museum researchers are working to develop a baseline inventory of these invertebrates on the base. Environmental staff on the base hope to repeat the study in future years to monitor the impact of climate change.
The team has made an inventory and for each insect and spider type, is recording essential ecological functions, such as decomposing and pollinating. These data are being used to develop reports and checklists for the different habitats. Meanwhile, the specimens that were collected are housed at the Museum, where they and the information gained from this ongoing study will be a resource for future research in how changes to climate and weather patterns affect the diversity and abundance of insect and spider life on the base.
Check out our Field Guide to Camp Pendleton’s Invertebrates. More.