, Volume 9, Issue 9, pp 1297-1311

Diversity of surface dwelling beetle assemblages in open-cast lignite mines in Central Germany

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Abstract

We investigated species richness of ground dwelling beetle assemblages in two non-reclaimed lignite mines and a dump in Central Germany by means of pitfall trapping. During a period of five months, a total of 203 beetle species within 27 families represented by 4099 individuals were trapped. This included 75 species of ground beetles represented in a sample of 957 individuals from which 10 species are regionally endangered. The number of individuals, species richness, as well as the proportions of endangered species did not differ between successional stages whereas species composition of sites could be related well to a set of environmental variables. High values of beta-diversity between sites indicated that the total number of species recorded is caused by habitat diversity. From the viewpoint of nature conservation, we conclude that postmining areas can play a key role in conservation of beetle diversity in agricultural areas since they harbour threatened species whose original habitats are now rare due to human impact. An important task for future management of postmining areas is to maintain successional processes and to prevent loss of habitat diversity through afforestation. Areas with extreme soil conditions should also be preserved for long-term availability of bare soil and pioneer vegetation and associated fauna.