Ground Beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) Responses to Cattle Grazing, Grassland Restoration, and Habitat across a Precipitation Gradient
Waite, Evan S.
Houseman, Gregory R.
Jensen, William E.
Reichenborn, Molly M.
Jameson, Mary Liz
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Waite, E.S.; Houseman, G.R.; Jensen,W.E.; Reichenborn, M.M.; Jameson, M.L. Ground Beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) Responses to Cattle Grazing, Grassland Restoration, and Habitat across a Precipitation Gradient. Insects 2022, 13, 696. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13080696
Grasslands in North America have declined by over 70% since industrialization of settlements due to the conversion of natural habitats to cropland and urban centers. In the United States, the federally supported Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was created to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and increase native habitats for wildlife. Within these restored grasslands, ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) are a keystone invertebrate group that fill several crucial niches and may serve as bioindicators of successful land management strategies. To understand the impact of land management on ground beetles, we examined carabid beetle community responses to a grazing treatment and two plant restoration treatments with low and relatively high initial plant diversity over two field seasons. We used pitfall traps at 108 CRP sites across a 63.5 cm precipitation gradient, encompassing three grassland types. Overall, grazing and restoration treatment did not have detectable effects on carabid abundance, biomass, or diversity. Carabid communities, however, responded differently to grazing within grassland types—all three community measures increased in response to grazing in tallgrass sites only. Our short-term study suggests that moderate levels of cattle grazing do not negatively affect carabid communities and might have positive effects on abundance, biomass, and diversity in tallgrass regions.
This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).