, Volume 142, Issue 3, pp 458–464 | Cite as

The response of carabids to landscape simplification differs between trophic groups

  • Tobias Purtauf
  • Jens Dauber
  • Volkmar Wolters
Community Ecology


We studied the response of carabid species richness and density to landscape simplification (measured as percentage cover of non-crop habitat surrounding each study site) in 36 wheat fields using pitfall traps. Carabids were divided to trophic groups following the literature. The number of species from different trophic groups declined with increasing landscape simplification in the order: carnivores > phytophages > omnivores. Density compensation of both carnivores and phytophages suggests that species decline is caused by the loss of specific resources rather than by an overall reduction in food availability. Increasing evenness indicates that a greater share of phytophagous species contributes to density compensation at poorer sites. A comparison with data from complementing studies shows that marked differences in species numbers (carnivores > omnivores > phytophages) are due to a different sensitivity of trophic groups to agricultural management. Since our findings seem to be partly due to increasing sensitivity to landscape changes with trophic rank, and partly to decreasing sensitivity of depauperate communities to local environmental stress, species loss can best be explained by the co-action of factors at local and regional scales. Species richness decline might significantly alter the role of carabids as biocontrol agents.


Carabidae Trophic rank Species richness Density compensation Landscape composition 



We thank Manfred Hollenhorst for help with the statistics. This study was funded by the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) in the context of the ‘Sonderforschungsbereich 299’ and by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the context of the project ‘Biodiversity and Spatial Complexity in Agricultural Landscapes under Global Change’ (BIOPLEX). The study complies with the current laws of Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IFZ, Department of Animal EcologyJustus-Liebig-University of GiessenGiessenGermany

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