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Trophic level modulates carabid beetle responses to habitat and landscape structure: a pan-European study


Adam J. Vanbergen, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Edinburgh EH26 0QB, U.K. E-mail:


1. Anthropogenic pressures have produced heterogeneous landscapes expected to influence diversity differently across trophic levels and spatial scales.

2. We tested how activity density and species richness of carabid trophic groups responded to local habitat and landscape structure (forest percentage cover and habitat richness) in 48 landscape parcels (1 km2) across eight European countries.

3. Local habitat affected activity density, but not species richness, of both trophic groups. Activity densities were greater in rotational cropping compared with other habitats; phytophage densities were also greater in grassland than forest habitats.

4. Controlling for country and habitat effects, we found general trophic group responses to landscape structure. Activity densities of phytophages were positively correlated, and zoophages uncorrelated, with increasing habitat richness. This differential functional group response to landscape structure was consistent across Europe, indicated by a lack of a country × habitat richness interaction. Species richness was unaffected by landscape structure.

5. Phytophage sensitivity to landscape structure may arise from relative dependency on seed from ruderal plants. This trophic adaptation, rare in Carabidae, leads to lower phytophage numbers, increasing vulnerability to demographic and stochastic processes that the greater abundance, species richness, and broader diet of the zoophage group may insure against.