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The relationship between the classification of Scottish ground beetle assemblages (Coleoptera, Carabidae) and the National Vegetation Classification of British plant communities

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A sufficiently large body of knowledge on British ground beetle (Carabidae) communities now exists to allow investigation of whether habitats may be classified or described on the basis of their ground beetle communities, in the same way that the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) describes British plant communities. A data set of ground beetle abundances from pitfall traps at 481 sites in a range of natural, semi-natural and agricultural habitats throughout Scotland was available for analysis. Multivariate analysis (detrended correspondence analysis and fuzzy cluster analysis) was carried out on proportional catch data of 156 species of ground beetle from 444 of these sites and the results related to the NVC of the sites.

Initial analysis classified the sites into five broad categories: 1) peatlands, 2) calcifugous, 3) mesotrophic, 4) dry river sediments and 5) damp river sediments. Further analysis identified 15 ground beetle assemblages, each corresponding to a relatively well defined vegetation type within one of these broad categories. The major environmental factors appearing to determine the distribution of ground beetle assemblages were substratum type, disturbance and soil moisture, all of which are also important determinants of the distribution of plant communities. The presence and absence of relatively stenotopic species were important discriminants of certain habitats such as wetlands and river sediments but the relative abundances within assemblages of more eurytopic species provided good indications of a relationship between ground beetle assemblages and NVC categories.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2003

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