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  • Author or Editor: Z. Elek x
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Ground beetles were studied among grassland — forest edge — beech forest habitats in Hungary, using pitfall traps. We hypothesised that the activity density and species richness of carabids were the highest in the forest edge, the activity density and the number of forest species were decreasing, while the activity density and the number of generalist species increasing from the forest towards the grassland. Carabid assemblage of the grassland was the most diverse and the forest was the least diverse if measured by Rényi diversity. The average species richness per trap was significantly higher in the grassland and in the edge than in the forest. The number of forest species was significantly higher in the edge than elsewhere. The number of generalist species was highest in the grassland and decreased towards the forest. The activity density of carabids was significantly higher in the forest and in the forest edge than in the grassland. The activity density of forest species was higher in the forest and in the edge than in the grassland. The activity density of the generalist species was higher in the grassland than in the forest edge and in the forest. There were seven species characteristic to the grassland as identified by IndVal; two species were characteristic to the edge, and two species were characteristic both to the forest and the edge. We found that humidity was the highest in the forest; Pterostichus oblongopunctatus and Molops piceus were associated with the forest habitat, while Abax ater and Pterostichus melanarius were associated with the forest edge according to the RDA. The the shrub cover was the most relevant factor in the edge; Abax ater and Pterostichus melanarius were associated with this habitat.

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Environmental stress can lead to a reduction in developmental homeostasis, which could be reflected in increased variability of morphological traits. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) is one possible manifestation of such a stress, and is often taken as a proxy for individual fitness. To test the usefulness of FA in morphological traits as an indicator of environmental quality, we studied the effect of urbanisation on FA in ground beetles (Carabidae) near a Danish city. First, we performed a critical examination whether morphological character traits suggested in the literature displayed true fluctuating asymmetry in three common predatory ground beetles, Carabus nemoralis, Nebria brevicollis and Pterostichus melanarius. Eight metrical (length of the second and third antennal segments, elytral length, length of the first tarsus segment, length of the first and second tibiae, length of the proximal and distal spines on the first femurs) and one meristic (the number of spines on the second tibiae) traits were examined. Most of them showed FA but not consistently. Females generally displayed a higher level of FA than males. Finally, we examined the changes in the level of FA in bilateral morphological traits along an urbanisation gradient (forest - suburban forest - forest fragments in urban park) to test whether environmental stress created by urbanisation is reflected in FA. Ground beetles common along a Danish urbanisation gradient did not seem to indicate differences in habitat quality by their level of FA.

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Several managed native forest stands have been reforested with conifer trees in Europe during recent centuries. These habitat alterations have influenced ground-dwelling invertebrates. We studied carabid beetle assemblages from a native beech forest (70-y-old), and a recently established (5-y-old), a young (15-y-old), a middle-aged (30-y-old) and a mature (50-y-old) Norway spruce plantation by pitfall trapping to explore the effect of reforestation on carabid beetles. The total number of carabid species, and the forest species were highest in the beech forest. The number of open-habitat species was highest in the youngest, relatively open monoculture. Ordination also confirmed changes in carabid composition with change in the studied habitats. Newly proposed forest affinity indices, based on species specificity, fidelity, and on a combination of specificity and fidelity were significantly higher in beech forest than in spruce plantations. We found these affinity indices especially useful in revealing the ecological character of the studied carabid assemblages. Regression analyses showed that leaf litter cover, herbs, shrubs, canopy closure and prey abundance were related to the structure of carabid-beetle assemblages.

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Physiological condition of an animal is flexible and can quickly change in relation to the quality of its environment. This makes it potentially suitable as an estimator of environmental stress. We studied the condition in three predatory ground beetles, Carabus nemoralis, Nebria brevicollis and Pterostichus melanarius along an urbanisation gradient (forest-suburban area - forest fragments in urban park) in Sorø, Denmark to test whether urbanisation-related stress is reflected in body condition. We also considered the interaction between condition and the true asymmetry using a local polynomial regression model. Females showed consistently better condition than males in all studied species. The condition indices in C. nemoralis and N. brevicollis were higher in the urban habitats than the other sites, while P. melanarius showed better condition in the suburban forest fragments than the forest or urban habitats. A significant negative correlation was found between condition and asymmetry for C. nemoralis and N. brevicollis in the suburban as well as urban forest fragments. This indicates a complex interaction between tolerance limits, feeding conditions and stress levels during advancing urbanisation, emphasising the importance of using multiple criteria for assessing its impact on biodiversity.

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We suggest the use of a graphical method, involving a standardisation of the seasonal activity curves and their subsequent comparison by a percentile-percentile graph as an easy way to compare seasonal activities in arthropods. To test the suitability of the suggested method, the seasonal dynamics of three common carabid beetles, Pterostichus melanarius, Nebria brevicollis and Carabus nemoralis were compared in three habitats (rural forest, suburban and urban forest fragments) along an urbanisation gradient near Sorø, Denmark, in 2004 and 2005. Activity in urban habitats often started earlier, possibly caused by the warmer microclimate in the city centre. The comparative graphs indicated the unsuitability of the suburban habitat for N. brevicollis, and the differential suitability as overwintering habitat of the three urbanisation stages for C. nemoralis. The method seems suitable to analyse differences in seasonal activity while being more sensitive than traditional seasonal-activity graphs.

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Urbanization effects on terrestrial isopod (Isopoda, Oniscidea) populations were studied in forested areas along a rural-to-urban gradient including a native beech forest, suburban and urban forest fragments in Sorø, Denmark. The seasonal activity patterns of the dominating species (Oniscus asellus, Philoscia muscorum and Porcellio scaber) indicated differences among the areas, but these patterns were idiosyncratic. There were more females than males in most areas. The seasonal patterns of males and non-gravid females were similar and often bimodal; gravid females showed markedly different, usually unimodal activity patterns. Temporal changes of sex ratios were – in each species – characterized by an early summer activity peak of males, followed by the activity peak of gravid females. We suggest that these trends might indicate a reproduction-driven surface activity of males. The small response of the three isopod species to urbanization may reflect their wide ecological tolerance as well as the “soft management” of the urban park.

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