Communities of the canopy of temperate forests are still relatively unexplored. Furthermore, very little is known on how vertical stratification for some insect groups is related to biological strategies. In this study, we investigated the community composition of both canopy and understory of the families Ampulicidae, Crabronidae and Sphecidae (Hymenoptera) of the Natural Reserve of “Bosco della Fontana”, a remnant lowland forest in northeastern Italy. Observed patterns in vertical stratification have been related to species foraging habits. Our study reveals that the bulk of the community of Spheciformes of the understory consists of species predating dipterans and spiders, while species associated with the canopy are mainly predators of sap-sucking honeydew producers and epiphyte grazers, like aphids, thrips, and barkflies. Comparing the communities of canopy and understory may lead to a better understanding of species ecology and provides useful information to forest managers.
canopy, biological traits, Spheciformes, Italian fauna, lowland forest