Beetles in the city: Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in Coquitlam, British Columbia as indicators of human disturbance

R. McGregor, V. Wahl


Urban development may cause adverse effects on the ecological integrity of natural areas in cities through habitat loss and fragmentation. Biological communities in habitat fragments may be altered, which may, in turn, negatively impact ecosystem services that contribute to the sustainability of urban areas. As such, methods are required to assess anthropogenic impacts on urban habitats. Here, results are presented of ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) monitoring in habitat fragments in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Ground beetle diversity in Coquitlam is highest in small, disturbed sites that include both native and introduced European species. Several European carabid species are effective biological indicators of anthropogenic disturbance in urban habitat fragments. Because of the relative ease of collection and identification of carabids, monitoring of carabids by citizen scientists can be used to assess human impacts on urban ecosystems.

Full Text:



Angold, P.G., Sadler, J.P., Hill, M.O., Pullin, A., Rushton, S., Austin, K., Small, E., Wood, B., Wadsworth, R., Sanderson, R., and Thompson, K. 2006. Biodiversity in urban habitat patches. Science of the Total Environment, 360: 196–204.

Bellard, C, Bertelsmeier, C., Leadley, P., Thuiller, W., and Courchamp, F. 2012. Impacts of climate change on the future of biodiversity. Ecology Letters, 15: 365–377.

Bland, R.G. and Jaques, H.E. 1978. How to know the insects, 3rd edition. W.C. Brown Company, Dubuque, Iowa.

Bergeron, J.A.C., Spence, J.R., and Volney, W.J.A. 2011. Landscape patterns of species-level associations between ground-beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and overstorey trees in boreal forests of western Canada. ZooKeys, 147: 577–600.

Brown, W.J. 1940. Notes on the American distribution of some species of Coleoptera common to the European and North American continents. Canadian Entomologist, 72: 65–78.

Crall, A.W., Newman, G.J., Jarnevich, C.S., Stohlgren, T.J., Waller, D.M., and Graham, J. 2010. Improving and integrating data on invasive species collected by citizen scientists. Biological Invasions, 12: 3419– 3428.

Da, L.J. and Song, Y.C. 2008. The construction of near-natural forests in the urban areas of Shanghai. In Ecology, planning and management of urban forests: International perspectives. Edited by M.M. Carreiro, Y.C. Song and J. Wu. Springer Publishing, New York, USA. Pp. 420–

Dufrêne, M. and Legendre, P. 1997. Species assemblages and indicator

species definition: the need of an asymmetrical and flexible approach.

Ecological Monographs, 67: 345–366.

Fahrig, L. 2003. Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Annual

Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 34: 487–515.

Flores, A., Pickett, S.T.A., Zipperer, W.C., Pouyat, R.V., and Pirani, R. 1998. Adopting a modern ecological view of the metropolitan landscape: the case of a greenspace system for the New York City

region. Landscape and Urban Planning, 39: 295–308.

Fusser, M.S., Holland, J.M., Jeanneret, P., Pfister, S.C., Entling, M.H., and Schirmel, J. 2018. Interactive effects of local and landscape factors on

farmland carabids. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 20: 549–557. Gibb, H. and Hochuli, D.F. 2002. Habitat fragmentation in an urban environment: large and small fragments support different arthropod

assemblages. Biological conservation, 106: 91–100.

Grimm, N.B., Faeth, S.H., Golubiewski, N.E., Redman, C.L., Wu, J., Bai,

X., and Briggs, J.M. 2008. Global change and the ecology of cities.

Science, 319: 756–760.

Hartley, D.J., Koivula, M.J., Spence, J.R., Pelletier, R., and Ball, G.E.

Effects of urbanization on ground beetle assemblages (Coleoptera, Carabidae) of grassland habitats in western Canada. Ecography, 30: 673–684.

Kavanaugh, D.H. and LaBonte, J.R. 2008. Discovery of Nebria brevicollis (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Caribidae: Nebriini), a European Ground Beetle, Established in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 59: 481–488.

Klimaszewski, J., Langor, D., Batista, R., Duval, J., Majka, C.G., Scudder, G.G.E., and Bousquet, Y. 2012. Synopsis of adventive species of Coleoptera (Insecta) recorded from Canada. Part 1: Carabidae. Pensoft, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Koivula, M.J. 2011. Useful model organisms, indicators, or both? Ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) reflecting environmental conditions. ZooKeys, 100: 287–317.

Kotze, D.J., Lehvävirta, S., Koivula, M., O’Hara, R.B., and Spence, J.R. 2012. Effects of habitat edges and trampling on the distribution of ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) in urban forests. Journal of Insect Conservation, 16: 883–897.

Knapp, M., Knappová, J., Jakubec, P., Vonička, P., and Moravec, P. 2020. Incomplete species lists produced by pitfall trapping: How many carabid species and which functional traits are missing? Biological Conservation, 245: 108545.

LaBonte, J.R. 2011. Nebria brevicollis (Fabricius, 1792) in North America, benign or malign? (Coleoptera, Carabidae, Nebriini). ZooKeys, 147: 497–543.

Larochelle, A. and Larivière, M.-C. 2003. A Natural History of the Ground-Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of America north of Mexico. Faunistica, No 27. Pensoft Publishers, Moscow-Sofia.

Latty, E.F., Werner, S.M., Mladenoff, D.J., Raffa, K.F., and Sickley, T.A. 2005. Response of ground beetle (Carabidae) assemblages to logging history in northern hardwood–hemlock forests. Forest Ecology & Management, 222: 335–347.

Lemieux, J.P. and Lindgren, B.S. 2004. Ground beetle responses to patch retention harvesting in high elevation forests of British Columbia. Ecography, 27: 557–566.

Li, J., Wang, Y., and Song, Y.C. 2008. Landscape corridors in Shanghai and their importance in urban forest planning. In Ecology, planning and management of urban forests: International perspectives. Edited by M.M. Carreiro, Y.C. Song and J. Wu. Springer Publishers, New York, USA. Pp. 219–239.

Lindroth, C.H., 1961, 1963, 1966, 1968, 1969a, 1969b. The ground- beetles (Carabidae, excl. Cicindelinae) of Canada and Alaska, Part 2. Opuscula entomologica Supplements, 20: 1–200; 24: 201–408; 29: 409–648; 33: 649–944; 34: 945–1192; 35: I–XLVIII.

Magura, T., Tóthmérész, B., and Molnár, T. 2004. Changes in carabid beetle assemblages along an urbanisation gradient in the city of Debrecen, Hungary. Landscape Ecology, 19: 747–759.

Marshall, S.A. 2018. Beetles: The natural history and diversity of Coleoptera. Firefly Books, Richmond Hill, Ontario.

MacIvor, J.S. and Lundholm, J. 2010. Insect species composition and diversity on intensive green roofs and adjacent level-ground habitats. Urban Ecosystems, 14: 225–241.

McCune, B. and Grace, J.B. 2002. Analysis of ecological communities. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, Oregon.

Montserrat, V., Basnou, C., Pyšek, P., Josefsson, M., Genovesi, P., Gollasch, S., Nentwig, W., Olenin, S., Roques, A., Roy, D., Hulme, P.E., and DAISIE partners .2010. How well do we understand the impacts of alien species on ecosystem services? A pan-European, cross-taxa assessment. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 8: 135–144.

Niemelä, J. and Spence, J.R. 1991. Distribution and abundance of an exotic ground-beetle (Carabidae): A test of community impact. Oikos, 62: 351–359.

Pierce, J.L. and Venier, L.A. 2006. The use of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and spiders (Aranae) as bioindicators of sustainable forest management: A review. Ecological Indicators, 6: 780–793.

Prasad, R.P. and Snyder, W.E. 2006. Polyphagy complicates conservation biological control that targets generalist predators. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43: 343–352.

Rainio, J. and Niemela, J. 2003. Ground beetles as bioindicators. Biodiversity and Conservation, 12: 487–506.

Ranganathan, J., Raudsepp-Hearne, C., Lucas, N., Irwin, F., Zurek, M., Bennett, K., Ash, N., and West, P. 2008. Ecosystem services: A guide for decision makers. World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.

Raworth, D.A., Clements, S.J., and Cirkony, C. 1997. Carabid beetles in commercial raspberry fields in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and a sampling protocol for Pterostichus melanarius (Coleoptera: Carabidae). Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia,

: 51–58.

Silvertown, J. 2009. A new dawn for citizen science. Trends in Ecology &

Evolution, 24: 467–470.

Spence, J.R. and Niemela, J.K. 1994. Sampling carabid beetles with

pitfall traps: The madness and the method. The Canadian

Entomologist, 126: 881–894.

Spence, J.R. and Spence, D.H. 1988. Of ground-beetles and men:

introduced species and the synanthropic fauna of western Canada. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada, 120: 151– 168.

Thomas, C.D., Bodsworth, E.J., Wilson, R.J., Simmons, A.D., Davies, Z.G., Musche, M., and Conradt, L. 2001. Ecological and evolutionary processes at expanding range margins. Nature, 411: 577–581.

Work, T.T., Koivula, M., Klimaszewski, J., Langor, D., Spence, J., Sweeney, J., and Hébert, C. 2008. Evaluation of carabid beetles as indicators of forest change in Canada. The Canadian Entomologist, 140: 393–414.


  • There are currently no refbacks.