The terrestrial invertebrate fauna of Moorea represents likely the second largest component of the island’s biota with an extrapolated estimate of 500 species, based on land area and numbers of described species in French Polynesia. This estimate could rise considerably, depending on diversity of taxa in little-studied groups and unrecorded invasive species. The true diversity remains unknown. During the pilot portion of MBP, we leveraged partnerships with ongoing NSF French Polynesia Terrestrial Invertebrate Biodiversity Survey and Inventory (PI Gillespie, see http://polynesia.berkeley.edu), NSF Wolbachia (PI Davies), and NSF RCN Invasive Insects (PI Roderick) grants, and assistance from the government of French Polynesia, to sample representative habitats and taxonomic groups. In the first phase of the project most collections were qualitative with the majority of specimens sampled from mid- and low-elevation sites. The only high elevation site surveyed in the pilot MBP was the summit area of Mt. Tohiea at 1207m, the highest elevation on Moorea, as part of a 2-day collecting expedition in September 2006. In this expedition a team of 5 entomologists were helicoptered to the summit, where they spent 1½ days on the summit before hiking down to the southeast. The team sampled terrestrial arthropods using methods of hand collecting, micro-pyrethrin fogging of vegetation and litter, and night black lighting. Many of the species collected from Tohiea appear to be new to science and many represent the first collections of indigenous species from a particular genus or family on Moorea. A midelevation site, “Three Coconuts” (accessible by trail above the Opunohu Valley), was sampled extensively during the pilot MBP through a diversity of methods including standard Malaise trapping and hand collecting methods. Low-elevation sites, primarily near the north and eastern coasts and in Paopao Valley, have been sampled using the same methods as well as night black light trapping. During the pilot MBP, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to engage students from the local middle schools Entomology Club to assist in the collection and vouchering of specimens. This enthusiasm has helped to build local support for the entire project and resulted in a DVD movie presentation that is now used for outreach. As part of our continuing efforts in the community, we are working to expand this initiative. One way we have been able to accomplish this is through Rosemary Gillespie's independent NSF project, in which a graduate student will be working with the local K-12 educational community involved in the arthropod collection effort s (NSF GK-12 program, PI Gillespie).
This project will involve scientists from UCB, French Polynesia, France, as well as other locations thereby extending the intellectual and institutional reach of the MBP. The collection and barcoding data will contribute to global databases concerning invertebrate biodiversity and invasive species. The terrestrial arthropod data will provide the base data for one of the Proof of Concept studies and allow assessment of the use of invertebrate taxa for determining conservation priorities. Like the terrestrial vertebrate data, the terrestrial invertebrate data will facilitate studies on the impact of invasive species and human migrations in shaping biodiversity in the tropical Pacific.