Species diversity is typically higher in tropical forest canopies than in ground layers, but this pattern is absent in temperate forests. However, hardwood forests of Florida are typified by the intermingling of temperate and tropical species. It is thus unclear how diversity in Florida forests might be vertically stratified. This project is one of the first investigations to compare arthropod communities at varying layers (strata) of a Florida hardwood forest, from ground to canopy habitats. We installed terrestrial and arboreal pitfall traps to survey the arthropod community along a vertical gradient from the forest ground to upper canopy. We collected 830 arthropods from the 34 traps, amounting to 103 morphospecies across 15 orders. Coleoptera was the most morphospecious order, followed by Diptera, Araneae, and Hymenoptera. Species alpha diversity, richness, and abundance all decreased with height from the ground and horizontal distance from the tree. We discuss the vertical stratification of orders in addition to diversity metrics. This study is the first to reveal canopy strata effects on arthropod diversity in a Florida forest, and shows how diversity and composition changes along within site gradients.
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Vol. 102 • No. 1