Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 487–506 | Cite as

Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) as bioindicators

  • Johanna Rainio
  • Jari Niemelä


One of the primary goals of research on bioindicators is to identifyspecies or other taxonomic units that would reliably indicate disturbances inthe environment, and reflect the responses of other species or the overallbiodiversity. However, there is no perfect bioindicator and selecting the mostsuitable one depends to a great extent on the goal of the survey. In this paperwe examine the suitability of carabids as bioindicators. Carabids are frequentlyused to indicate habitat alteration. They have been used in grasslands andboreal forests where species number and/or abundances have been noted to changealong a habitat disturbance gradient. A common trend is that large, poorlydispersing specialist species decrease with increased disturbance while smallgeneralist species with good dispersal ability increase. Some species are notaffected by moderate disturbance. There is, however, not enough research todetermine how suitable carabids are for biodiversity studies, or how well theyrepresent the response of other species. We conclude that carabids are usefulbioindicators, but as crucial understanding of their relationship with otherspecies is incomplete, they should be used with caution.

Bioindicators Carabids Fragmentation Ground beetles 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

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  • Johanna Rainio
  • Jari Niemelä

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