Plants and gall hosts of the Tirimbina Biological Reserve, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica: Combining field sampling with herbarium records
There has been an increasing number of inventories of gall-inducing arthropods in the Neotropics. Nonetheless, very few inventories have been carried out in areas where the flora is well documented, and records of galls from herbaria and sites outside the study area have seldom been utilized. In this study we provide a checklist of the native vascular plants of a 345 ha forest reserve in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica and document which of these plants were found to harbor galls. The gall surveys were carried out between November 2013 and December 2016. We also cross-checked our plant list with the previous gall records from elsewhere in the country and searched for galls on herbarium specimens of dicots reported from the reserve. In total, we recorded 143 families and 1174 plant species, of which 401 were hosts of galls. Plant hosts of galls were found in the following non-mutually exclusive categories: 209 in our field sampling, 257 from previous records, and 158 in herbarium specimens. Of our field records of galls, 77 were new for the country, 77 were also found in the herbarium and 110 had been previously recorded in the country. Herbarium specimens and previous records are good indicators of potential gall hosts but around one quarter (40/158) of the gall records in the herbarium were ambiguous as to whether the tissue alteration was a gall or not. Plant family size was related to number of gall hosts, but most dicot families have similar proportions of gall host species. We concluded that more than a third of the native plants in the reserve are gall hosts, but this number increased to 44.93 % when only dicots were considered. Our results demonstrate the utility of providing complete plant inventories when conducting gall inventories, and of using herbarium specimens and previous galls studies to infer gall diversity in a specific area.