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

Alan D. Yanahan, Steven J. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1591-1609
Number of pages19
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity indicator
  • Carabidae
  • Conservation planning
  • Habitat delineation
  • Species assemblages
  • Vegetative communities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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