Spatial distribution of upland beetles in relation to landform, vegetation and grazing management

Peter Dennis, R. J. Aspinall, Iain J. Gordon

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35 Citations (SciVal)


We applied a novel analysis based on distance statistics to investigate how patterns of habitat heterogeneity affected the distribution of representative ground and rove beetle species (Coleoptera: Carabidae, Staphylinidae), sampled at an upland site of varied landform, soil and vegetation structure. The structural heterogeneity of the Nardus stricta-dominated grassland was further modified by varying grazing intensity with sheep, or sheep and cattle. We collected pitfall trap data from 120 sample points across the study area. Ground and rove beetle species were selected to represent the major trends in the species-trap abundance data, determined by the extent of their correlation with the main components of a factor analysis (Principal Components Analysis). The novel statistical analytical method, calculation of the Getis and Ord distance statistic, G, was applied to the distribution data of each selected species of ground and rove beetle. The distance statistic was calculated for the smallest distance to ensure that each sample point had at least one neighbour (73 m) and this distance was used to detect local spatial association and to explore the location and spatial scale of aggregations of each beetle species over the hillside. Clusters of high and low G (z) values were mapped to indicate the species' functional heterogeneity compared with habitat heterogeneity determined by landform, soils or grazing management. The small number of large aggregations indicated the sensitivity of certain species to patterns of landform (Calathus melanocephalus and Pterostichus adstrictus). More aggregations of smaller size, coinciding with the pattern of particular grazing regimes indicated species sensitive to grazing intensity and species of mammalian herbivore (Carabus problematicus and Olophrum piceum). The aggregations of Othius angustus and Philonthus decorus related to landform, and suggested these species may have been directly responding to soil moisture and patterns of trampling by grazers. The method distinguished between those species that are sensitive to land use change and those that may be affected more by climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-193
Number of pages11
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002


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