Carabidae (ground beetles)

Matthew Denton, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA 98505 USA.

20 April 1997

The family Carabidae is very diverse, with more than 25,000 species now described, and is found throughout the world (Kavanaugh 1992). It is the third-most diverse family of insects in North America, with over 2000 species north of Mexico (Borror et al. 1981). Carabids occupy a wide range of habitats and in comparison to other insect groups, are well represented in cool and cold-temperate regions (Kavanaugh 1992). Most carabids are predators of insects and other invertebrates, but many also scavenge for food and some are specialized plant feeders (Kavanaugh 1992).

Carabids show strong habitat-specificity, and many species are brachypterous and have low dispersal rates. Lindroth (1979) studied carabid species that were dimorphic for wing length (long wings or short wings). He found that long winged (macropterous) species were predominant in recently colonized areas and short winged (brachypterous) species were predominant in habitats of long term occupation. Carabids are therefore good indicators of distributional barriers and past distributions of biotas (Kavanaugh 1992). Due to their strong habitat specificity and low disperal rates, carabids are excellent bioindicators of habitat quality or change.

The college campus is 396 ha in area and is heavily wooded with conifer and broadleaf trees. Synanthropic habitats include the campus core area, parking lots, medians, road shoulders, abandoned fields and an organic farm.

Literature Cited

Borror, D. J., D. M. De Long, and C. A. Triplehorn. 1981. An introduction to the Study of Insects, fifth edition. Saunders College Publishing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Kavanaugh, D. H. 1992. Carabid beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera: Carabidae) of the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences Number 16. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California, USA.

Lindroth, C. H. 1961-1969. The ground beetles (Carabidae excl. Cicindelinae) of Canada and Alaska. Parts 1-6. Opuscula Entomologica xlviii + 1192 pp.

Lindroth, C. H. 1979. The theory of glacial refugia. Pages 385-394 in T.L. Erwin, G. E. Ball, D. R. Whitehead, and A.L. Halpern (eds.), Carabid beetles: their evolution, natural history, and classification. W. Junk bv. Publishers, The Hague.

Top of page

For information about this page: John T. Longino

Last modified: 04/20/1997