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Evaluation of carabid beetles as indicators of forest change in Canada1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2012

Timothy T. Work*
Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, et la UQAT–UQAM Chaire en Aménagement Forestier Durable, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3P8
Matti Koivula
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskalä, P.O. Box 35 (MaD) F1-40014 Jyväskalän, Yliopisto, Finland
Jan Klimaszewski
Laurentian Centre, Canadian Forest Service, 1055 rue du P.E.P.S., C.P. 10380, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada G1V 4C7
David Langor
Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, 5320 – 122 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6H 3S5
John Spence
Department of Renewable Resources, 4-42 ESB, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E3
Jon Sweeney
Atlantic Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, P.O. Box 4000, 1350 Regent Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 5P7
Christian Hébert
Laurentian Centre, Canadian Forest Service, 1055 rue du P.E.P.S., C.P. 10380, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada G1V 4C7
2Corresponding author (e-mail:


Our objective was to assess the potential of carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) as effective bioindicators of the effects of forest management at a Canadian national scale. We present a comparison of carabid beetle assemblages reported from large-scale studies across Canada. Based on the initial response following disturbance treatment, we found that carabid assemblages consistently responded to disturbance, but responses of individual species and changes in species composition were nested within the context of regional geography and finer scale differences among forest ecosystems. We also explored the relationship between rare and dominant taxa and species characteristics as they relate to dispersal capacity and use of within-stand habitat features such as coarse woody debris. We found no relationship between life-history characteristics (such as body size, wing morphology, or reported associations with downed wood) and the relative abundance or frequency of occurrence of species. Our results suggest that carabids are better suited to finer scale evaluations of the effects of forest management than to regional or national monitoring programs. We also discuss several knowledge gaps that currently limit the full potential of using carabids as bioindicators.


Notre objectif est d’évaluer l’efficacité potentielle des carabes (Coleoptera: Carabidae) comme bioindicateurs des effets de l’aménagement forestier à l’échelle canadienne. Nous comparons les peuplements de carabidés dans des études de grande envergure faites dans diverses régions canadiennes. D’après leur réaction initiale à la perturbation, les peuplements de carabes répondent de façon cohérente aux effets des perturbations, bien que les réactions des espèces individuelles et les changements de composition spécifique soient emboîtés dans le contexte de la géographie régionale et des différences fines entre les écosystèmes forestiers. Nous examinons aussi les relations entre les espèces rares et dominantes, de même que les caractéristiques des espèces, en ce qui a trait à la capacité de dispersion des espèces et des particularités des habitats au sein des peuplements forestiers, comme la présence de débris ligneux grossiers. Il n’existe pas de relation entre les caractéristiques biologiques des carabes (telles que la taille corporelle, la morphologie alaire ou l’association présumée avec le bois mort au sol) et l’abondance relative ou la fréquence des espèces. Nos résultats indiquent que les carabes peuvent mieux servir aux évaluations fines des effets des aménagements forestiers qu’aux programmes de surveillance à l’échelle régionale ou nationale. La discussion traite de plusieurs lacunes dans nos connaissances qui restreignent la pleine utilisation potentielle des carabes comme bioindicateurs.

[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Copyright © Entomological Society of Canada 2008

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Evaluation of carabid beetles as indicators of forest change in Canada1
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