King, Richard B.
M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of Biological Sciences
With the removal and destruction of natural areas for human use, there is a push to restore natural habitats. However, most restoration activities focus on reestablishing plant communities, while less is known about the recovery of organisms in higher trophic levels and their functional roles. Considering functional traits (those that explain an organisms’ response to environmental change and impacts on ecosystems) of restored communities may reveal how communities, and the ecosystem functions they drive, recover. Of particular interest are ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) because of their diversity and important ecological roles as consumers. This study focused on the ground beetle community’s taxonomic and functional responses to time since restoration, presence of bison, and prescribed fire to make predictions of how ground beetles influence restoration outcomes in tallgrass prairie. Specifically, the functional responses of interest were seed and arthropod predation. FDiv and FDis, two measures of functional diversity, were negatively affected by prescribed fire and presence of bison, but older restored sites had higher FDiv and FDis values. Predation rates, related to ecosystem functioning, also declined with recent fire. Older sites also had a higher activity density (abundance) of ground beetles, and bison created particularly favorable habitat for carnivorous and flightless species. While there was no clear pattern of how site age or bison impacted the ground beetle community, prescribed fire tended to reduce functional diversity and predatory function. Therefore, land managers should consider the timeframe between prescribed burns in order to allow the ground beetle community to reestablish, if the goal is to increase ground beetle community diversity and functional diversity.
Nelson, Melissa, "Ground beetle community structure and function in restored tallgrass prairie" (2019). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7489.
Northern Illinois University
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