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Testing abundance-range size relationships in European carabid beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae)

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Four of the eight hypotheses proposed in the literature for explaining the relationship between abundance and range size (the sampling artifact, phylogenetic non-independence, range position and resource breadth hypotheses) were tested by using atlas data for carabid beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) from Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. A positive relationship between abundance and partial range size was found in all three countries, and the variation in abundance was lower for widespread species. Analysis of the data did not support three of the proposed hypotheses, but did support the resource breadth hypothesis (species having broader environmental tolerances and being able to use a wider range or resources will have higher local densities and be more widely distributed than more specialised species). Examination of species’ characteristics revealed that widespread species are generally large bodied, generalists (species with wide niche breadths occurring in a variety of habitat types) and are little influenced by human-altered landscapes, while species with restricted distributions are smaller bodied, specialists (species with small niche breadths occurring in only one or two habitat types), and favour natural habitat. Landscape alteration may be an important factor influencing carabid abundance and range size in these three countries with a long history of human-induced environmental changes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2003

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