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Effects of urbanization on ground beetle assemblages (Coleoptera, Carabidae) of grassland habitats in western Canada

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We pitfall-trapped carabid beetles across an urban-rural gradient in central Alberta, Canada to assess the relative contributions of landscape structure and habitat quality in explaining variation in composition of assemblages. The gradient ranged from the “urban” zone in the city of Edmonton, through a “suburban” zone just outside the city, into a “rural” zone 25–60 km east of the city. We trapped beetles at three replicated sites for each of two habitats (unmanaged grasslands and highly managed graveyards) in each of the three zones. Most of the 24 species (3162 individuals) captured were commonly associated with open habitats. Pterostichus melanarius, an introduced species, made up 80% of the total catch. Carabid assemblages of grasslands and graveyards were distinct, with lower species richness and lower catch rates of native, introduced and brachypterous carabids in graveyards. Graveyard assemblages also had proportionally fewer brachypterous carabid individuals (32 vs 52%) and species (20 vs 36%), suggesting that populations recruit locally from elsewhere after disturbances. Native carabids were least abundant in the urban areas. Brachypterous carabids were similarly abundant across the gradient, but more occurred in the urban zone than elsewhere (32 vs 5–10%). Samples from graveyards were characterized by lower beta diversity (variation among samples) than those from grasslands, but beta diversity was more-or-less equally variable across the gradient within habitats. The amount of unmanaged grassland habitat and the degree of urbanization significantly influence carabid assemblages, and therefore are relevant to management and conservation of urban grassland areas.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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