• Ground beetles;
  • Metal pollution gradient;
  • Body mass;
  • nergy content;
  • Calorimetry


At five sites located along a metal-pollution gradient in southern Poland, we collected, during the spring and summer of 2000, more than 1,200 individuals of the ground beetle (Pterostichus oblongopunctatus) to examine the relationship between pollution level and body mass. Animals from one additional sampling in May 2001 were used to measure body caloric value to verify whether metal pollution has an effect on the energy content of the body. The study sites were located in an area with a history of zinc and lead mining and smelting dating back to medieval times. Metal concentrations in the humus layer ranged from 200 to 9,600 mg/kg of zinc, 120 to 1,600 mg/kg of lead, and 3 to 82 mg/kg of cadmium. We found a significant increase in body mass with increasing pollution level. The beetles from all sites collected near the end of the season were lighter. However, no statistically significant trend in body caloric value was detected. We suggest that the high metal tolerance of the species, combined with altered interspecies competition at the polluted sites, is responsible for the positive correlation between soil metal concentration and body mass.