Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 1267–1283 | Cite as

Habitat specialization, distribution range size and body size drive extinction risk in carabid beetles

  • Dorothea NolteEmail author
  • Estève Boutaud
  • D. Johan Kotze
  • Andreas Schuldt
  • Thorsten Assmann
Original Paper


The worldwide biodiversity crisis is ongoing. To slow down, or even halt future species loss it is important to identify potential drivers of extinction risk. Species traits can help to understand the underlying process of extinction risk. In a comprehensive study on 464 carabid beetle species, we used ordinal logistic regression to analyze the relationship of species traits to extinction risk in Central Europe, taking phylogenetic relatedness into account. To consider varying trait responses in different habitat types, we also tested models for species groups associated with different habitat types (forest, open, riparian and wetland). Our results identified three traits of particular importance as predictors for high extinction risk: (1) high habitat specialization, (2) small distribution range size (which is not considered in the categorization of the German Red List), and (3) large body size. Furthermore, large macropterous species showed high extinction risk. Overall, species associated with mountainous, coastal and open habitats generally revealed a high risk of extinction, while most forest species showed a low extinction risk. However, forest species with predatory feeding behavior were threatened, as were wetland species that reproduce in autumn. Phylogenetic relatedness had no influence on how species traits predict carabid beetle extinction risk. In the light of these results, management and recovery plans for species which exhibit characteristic traits strongly associated with extinction risks, as well as the conservation and restoration of mountain, coastal and open habitats, have to be prioritized.


Carabidae Red List Species traits Insect decline Defaunation Conservation management 



We like to thank I. Harry, P. Brandmayr and K. Homburg for helping to complete and compile the species trait dataset, as well as two anonymous referees for their valuable comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2019_1724_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 15 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EcologyLeuphana University LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of HildesheimHildesheimGermany
  3. 3.Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiLahtiFinland
  4. 4.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Forest Nature ConservationGeorg-August-University GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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