Effects of habitat complexity on forest beetle diversity: do functional groups respond consistently?

Authors

  • Scott A. Lassau,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Wildlife Research, School of Biological Sciences, Heydon-Laurence Building A08, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia and
    2. Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Research, The Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia
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  • Dieter F. Hochuli,

    1. Institute of Wildlife Research, School of Biological Sciences, Heydon-Laurence Building A08, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia and
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  • Gerasimos Cassis,

    1. Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Research, The Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia
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  • Chris A. M. Reid

    1. Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Research, The Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia
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Correspondence: Scott A. Lassau, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Research, The Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia. Tel.: (61–2) 9320–6348; Fax: (61–2) 9361 5479; E-mail: scottl@austmus.gov.au

ABSTRACT

We examined the responses of a beetle assemblage to habitat complexity differences within a single habitat type, Sydney sandstone ridgetop woodland, using pitfall and flight-intercept trapping. Six habitat characters (tree canopy cover, shrub canopy cover, ground herb cover, soil moisture, amount of leaf litter, and amount of logs, rocks and debris) were scored between 0 and 3 using ordinal scales to reflect habitat complexity at survey sites. Pitfall trapped beetles were more species rich and of different composition in high complexity sites, compared with low complexity sites. Species from the Staphylinidae (Aleocharinae sp. 1 and sp. 2), Carabidae (Pamborus alternans Latreille), Corticariidae (Cartodere Thomson sp. 1) and Anobiidae (Mysticephala Ford sp. 1) were most clearly responsible for the compositional differences, preferring high complexity habitat. Affinities between general functional groupings of pitfall-trapped beetles and habitat variables were not clear at a low taxonomic resolution (family level). The composition and species richness of flight-intercept-trapped beetles were similar in high and low complexity sites. Our study demonstrates that discrete responses of the various functional groups of beetles are strongly associated with their feeding habits, indicated by differing habitat components from within overall composite habitat complexity measures. Although habitat preferences by beetle species may often reflect their foraging habits, clarification of the causal mechanisms underpinning the relationships between habitat complexity and beetles are critical for the development of general principles linking habitat, functional roles and diversity.

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