Aim To study the effects of isolation and size of small tropical islands on species assemblages of bees (superfamily Apoidea) and wasps (superfamily Vespoidea).
Location Twenty islands in the Kepulauan Seribu Archipelago off the coast of west Java, Indonesia. The size of surveyed islands ranges between 0.75 and 41.32 ha; their distance from the coast of Java varies between 3 and 62 km.
Methods Field work was conducted from February to May 2005. Bees and wasps were caught with a sweep net during sampling units of 15 min, continuing until four consecutive samples revealed no new species. Total species richness was quantified by the estimators Chao 2, first-order jackknife and Michaelis–Menten. The software binmatnest was used to test for nestedness of species assemblages. Similarities of species composition between islands were quantified by Sørensen’s similarity index.
Results Eighty-two species were recorded on the 20 surveyed islands. Species richness declined with increasing isolation of islands from the source area, Java. Although the size of the largest island exceeded that of the smallest island by a factor of almost 60, island size only very weakly affected species richness of bees; no effect of island size was found for wasps. Mean body size of species decreased with increasing island isolation. Nestedness of island faunas was only weakly developed. Species composition of both superfamilies was affected by island isolation, but not by island size.
Main conclusions While the species–isolation relationship on the very small islands of Kepulauan Seribu followed the prediction of MacArthur and Wilson’s equilibrium theory, the absence of a species–area relationship indicated a weak ‘small-island effect’, at least in wasps. The combination of an only weakly developed pattern of nested species subsets, the shift in species compositions and the decline of mean body size with increasing island isolation from the source area indicates that biotic interactions and different species traits contribute to the shaping of communities of bees and wasps within the archipelago. The potential of biotic interactions for generating distribution patterns of species within the archipelago is also emphasized by the observed restriction of some species with apparently high dispersal abilities to outer islands.