Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1591–1609 | Cite as

Vegetative communities as indicators of ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) diversity

Original Paper


Accurately measuring biodiversity is essential for successful conservation planning. Due to biodiversity’s complexity, specific taxa are often chosen as indicators of patterns of diversity as a whole. Such taxa can include vegetation which can inform conservation decisions by demarcating land units for management strategies. For land units to be useful, they must be accurate spatial representations of the species assemblages present on the landscape. In this study, we determined whether land units classified by vegetative communities predicted the community structure of a diverse group of invertebrates—the ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae). Specifically, that (1) land units of the same classification contained similar carabid species assemblages and that (2) differences in species structure were correlated with variation in land unit characteristics, including canopy and ground cover, vegetation structure, tree density, leaf litter depth, and soil moisture. The study site, the Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve in Will County, Illinois is a mosaic of differing land units. Carabid beetles were sampled continuously with pitfall trapping for 1 year (excluding winter) from September 2011 to November 2011 and from March 2012 to September 2012. Land unit characteristics were measured in July 2012. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordinated the land units by their carabid species assemblages into five ecologically meaningful clusters: disturbed, marsh, prairie, restoration, and savanna. The subset of land unit characteristics with the highest rank correlation with the NMDS ordination included soil moisture, leaf litter depth, percentage of canopy cover, and percentage of grass ground cover. Land units classified by vegetative communities effectively represented carabid species assemblages.


Carabidae Species assemblages Vegetative communities Habitat delineation Biodiversity indicator Conservation planning 



Funding for this study was provided in part by a Grant from the Forest Preserve District of Will County, a Grant from Prairie Biotic Research, Inc., and a Master’s Project Travel Grant from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We thank Dr. Anthony Yannarell (University of Illinois) for statistical consultation and Dr. Andrew Suarez (University of Illinois) and Dr. Sam Heads (Illinois Natural History Survey) for reviewing earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2014_688_MOESM1_ESM.doc (176 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 175 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of Illinois, UrbanaUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Entomology and Insect ScienceUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Illinois Natural History SurveyUniversity of Illinois, ChampaignChampaignUSA

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