Arthropod communities in Proteaceae infructescences: Seasonal variation and the influence of infructescence phenology
Arthropods associated with infructescences of nine Proteaceae species were collected on a monthly basis over a two-year period. A total of 66 morphospecies, over 7000 individuals, belonging to 45 arthropod families, were collected. Plant species with larger infructescences showed the highest arthropod species richness and abundance. Protea laurifolia, P. repens, P. nitida, P. burchellii and P. neriifolia harboured very similar arthropod assemblages. Seasonal patterns were also observed in the arthropods associated with Protea spp. infructescences, with abundance and richness levels peaking during the wetter autumn and winter months. There is an increase in arthropod species richness and abundance as the infructescences of the Protea spp. age. Results of this study elucidate patterns of association between a range of Proteaceae and the arthropods contained within their infructescences.