Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (3): 453-459, 2011 | 10.14411/eje.2011.058

Assembly rules for ground beetle communities: What determines community structure, environmental factors or competition?

Sonomi SHIBUYA1, Kohei KUBOTA2, Masahiko OHSAWA3, Zaal KIKVIDZE1
1 Laboratory of Biosphere Functions, Department of Natural Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Kashiwanoha 5-1-5, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8563, Japan; e-mail: sshibuya@nenv.k.u-tokyo.ac.jp
2 Laboratory of Forest Zoology, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan
3 Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia

Species assembly in ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) communities in local microhabitats was studied in a forest. The following questions were addressed: are there important filters that sort the species in the assemblages? If so, what is the specific nature of these filters? In order to address these questions rarefaction analysis was used to determine whether ground beetle species are distributed non-randomly. Next, the nature of filters was determined by analyzing (1) the community matrix and searching for the consequences of competitive exclusion and (2) species-environmental relations. Rarefaction analysis revealed that the species composition is filtered: species richness was less than expected and there were fewer than expected congeneric species coexisting at high beetle population densities. However, community matrix and body size analyses did not detect significant competition among the beetle species and the matrix was significantly nested. Species-environmental analyses indicated that the ground beetle assembly was strongly linked to ground vegetation. It is concluded that spatial distribution of ground beetles across local communities in this forest habitat is determined more by local environmental conditions than competition, and ground beetles do not interact strongly among themselves so that competitive effects do not play an important role in their distribution except at high beetle population densities.

Keywords: Carabidae, ground beetles, community structure, assembly rules, environmental factors

Received: December 19, 2010; Accepted: February 14, 2011; Published: July 1, 2011

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