Seasonal changes in populations of three sympatric isopods in a Hong Kong forest



Data on the population dynamics of tropical isopods in general, and those inhabiting forests in particular, are scarce. Consequently, the population dynamics of three sympatric isopods, Burmoniscus ocellatus (Philosciidae), Formosillo raffaelei and Orodillo maculatus (Armadillidae), were studied at two neighbouring sites in a mixed forest in Hong Kong between March 1985 and December 1986. Isopod population densities varied with the species, site and season, with mean densities ranging from 100–150 m-2. Burmoniscus ocellatus and F. raffaelei had a single recruitment peak per year, while O. maculatus had two. Results of the present study revealed that air temperature was the main factor explaining seasonal variations in population density, while rainfall exerted its effect with a two- to three-week time-lag, depending on the species studied. Approximately 20% of Formosillo raffaelei and O. maculatus sampled were found infected by Rickettsiella bacteria. The possible influence of pathogens, and other biotic factors, on the dynamics of the Hong Kong isopod populations was discussed