Eur. J. Entomol. 111 (5): 715-725, 2014 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2014.090

Old forest edges may promote the distribution of forest species in carabid assemblages (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in Croatian forests

Andreja BRIGIĆ1, Marija STARČEVIĆ2, Boris HRAŠOVEC3, Zoltán ELEK4
1 Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Rooseveltov trg 6, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia; e-mail: andreja.brigic@biol.pmf.hr
2 Ante Kovačića 7, 47 000 Karlovac, Croatia; e-mail: marijastarcevic.eb@gmail.com
3 Department of Forest Protection and Wildlife Management, Faculty of Forestry, University of Zagreb, Svetošimunska 25, 10 002 Zagreb, Croatia; e-mail: hrasovec@sumfak.hr
4 MTA-ELTE-MTM Ecology Research Group, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, c/o Biological Institute of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C., H-1117 Budapest, Hungary and Hungarian Natural History Museum, Baross u. 13., Budapest, H-1088, Hungary; e-mail: zoltan.elek2@gmail.com

Boundaries between habitats are usually accompanied by transitions in the diversity and structural complexity of insect assemblages. Edge effects on carabid beetle assemblages across forest-meadow ecotones in Dinaric beech-fir forests were determined in the Gorski Kotar region of western Croatia. Carabid beetles were sampled using pitfall traps set along gradients extending 60 m from the forest edge into its interior and 60 m into the meadow. Embedded forest edges were greater than 100 years old and had a similar composition and structure of vegetation to that in the adjacent forest. A total of 20,526 individuals belonging to 66 carabid beetle species were recorded. Carabid assemblages in the ecotones were more similar to those in the forest interiors than those in the meadows. The classical edge effect hypothesis was not supported, since the ecotones were less diverse than the meadows, while the carabid assemblages of the forest interiors were the least diverse. Soil temperature, soil humidity and light intensity did not differ significantly between the ecotones and the forest interior. Therefore, embedded forest edges reduced the microclimate edge effect by providing stable microclimatic conditions for carabid assemblages similar to those in the forest interior. In addition, this enabled forest specialists and generalists to occur right up to the forest edge and maintain stable populations in the ecotone. On the other hand, ecotones acted as filters for certain forest generalist species and true barriers for most open-habitat species. This study confirmed that the structure and ages of the vegetation at edges may play a key role in determining the spatial pattern of carabid beetles across forest-meadow ecotones.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Carabidae, ecotone, ground beetles, beech-fir forests, Croatia

Received: December 20, 2013; Accepted: September 18, 2014; Prepublished online: October 10, 2014; Published: December 10, 2014

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