Habitat disturbance and hydrological parameters determine the body size and reproduction strategy of alluvial ground beetles
- Publisher: Pensoft Publishers
(issn: 1313-2989, eissn: 1313-2970)
trait shifts | environmental variability | life-history traits | floodplain | ecosystem processes | QL1-991 | species sorting | Zoology
Environmental variability is the main driver for the variation of biological characteristics (life-history traits) of species. Therefore, life-history traits are particularly suited to identify mechanistic linkages between environmental variability and species occurrence and can help in explaining ecological patterns. For ground beetles, few studies directly related species traits to environmental variables. This study aims to analyse how life-history traits of alluvial ground beetles are controlled by environmental factors. I expected that the occurrence of species and the occurrence of specific traits are closely related to hydrological and disturbance parameters. Furthermore I expected most of the trait-variation to be explained by a combination of environmental variables, rather than by their isolated effects. Ground beetles were sampled in the year 2005 in floodplain grassland along the Elbe River in Germany. I used redundancy analysis to quantify the effects of hydrological, sediment, and disturbance related parameters on both species occurrence and species traits. I applied variation partitioning to analyse which environmental compartments explain most of the trait variation. Species occurrence and trait variation were both mainly controlled by hydrological and flood disturbance parameters. I could clearly identify reproductive traits and body size as key traits for floodplain ground beetles to cope with the environmental variability. Furthermore, combinations of hydrological, habitat disturbance, habitat type, and species diversity parameters, rather than their isolated effects, explained large parts of ground beetle trait variation. Thus, a main conclusion of this study is that ground beetle occurrence is mainly determined by complex, multi-scale interactions between environmental variability and their life-history traits.