The current work results from a Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods) initiative designed to facilitate studies of peatland arthropods as a whole. In 1985, most of Canada’s terrestrial arthropod systematists were asked to provide systematic support for a Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods) project on peatland arthropods, and to consider contributing a chapter to a synthetic volume on this topic. The immediate goal was to help overcome the taxonomic impediment to studies of peatland arthropod ecology by providing taxonomic support for studies of peatland diversity.
The results of the project, presented at a symposium in Montreal in 1991, and repeated on the following pages, are rather different than those anticipated. The papers that follow do not comprise a comprehensive study of Canada’s peatland arthropods, but instead provide a series of insights into peatland arthropod biology, distribution, and systematics. This volume reports about 3600 terrestrial species, and includes estimates of species richness which suggest that as many as 6000 species could occur in rich fens. The general conclusion to be drawn from the contributions to this volume is that a great deal of work remains to be done on peatland arthropods. Although this volume includes some ambitious attempts at inventory, none is complete. They demonstrate that it is impossible to identify all arthropod species associated with peatlands at present. The taxonomic impediment will continue to hamper faunistic studies until such time as sufficient resources are committed to basic taxonomic studies in our most diverse group of organisms, the arthropods.