The impact of ash deposition levels on canopy arthropods was studied on the West Indian island of Montserrat, the site of an ongoing volcanic eruption since 1995. Many of the island’s natural habitats have been buried by volcanic debris, and remaining forests regularly receive volcanic ash deposition. To test the effect of ash on canopy arthropods, four study sites were sampled over a 15-mo period. Arthropod samples were obtained using canopy fogging, and ash samples were taken from leaf surfaces. Volcanic ash has had a significant negative impact on canopy arthropod populations, but the decline is not shared equally by all taxa present, and total population variation is within the variance attributed to other aboitic and biotic factors. The affected populations do not differ greatly from those of the neighboring island of St. Kitts, which has not been subject to recent volcanic activity. This indicates that observed effects on Montserrat’s arthropod fauna have a short-term acute response to recent ash deposition rather than a chronic depression caused by repeated exposure to ash over the last decade.
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