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.