Movement rates of woodland invertebrates: a systematic review of empirical evidence


N. C. Brouwers, School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK. E-mail:;



  • 1A systematic review was conducted to gather empirical evidence on movement rates of invertebrates associated with woodland.
  • 2Eight scientific literature databases were systematically searched for relevant studies on invertebrates associated with woodland habitat.
  • 3Twenty-five studies were identified that met the search selection criteria, which provided estimates of movement rate for 30 invertebrate species associated with woodland habitat. These 30 species represented insect species only, including 17 carabid (ground) beetle, eight butterfly, two bark beetle, two ant, and one moth species. From 2000 to 2008, only six studies were identified, indicating a current lack of dispersal-related studies for woodland invertebrates.
  • 4A meta-analysis of studies on ground-dwelling species indicated that carabid beetle species that were strongly associated with woodland habitat were found to move more slowly than more generalist species (median: 2.1 m day−1 vs. 11.0 m day−1). Furthermore, for carabid beetles it was found that body size was positively correlated with movement rate.
  • 5The lack of field measurements of movement and dispersal ability for all but a tiny minority of woodland invertebrates indicates a substantial knowledge gap that should be addressed by future research, which might usefully test whether the patterns identified for carabid beetles are generally applicable.