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PeerJ. 2019 Jan 9;6:e6197. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6197. eCollection 2019.

Carabid community structure in northern China grassland ecosystems: Effects of local habitat on species richness, species composition and functional diversity.

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School of Agriculture, Ningxia University, Yinchuan, China.
UMR EGCE, IRD, University of Paris-Sud, CNRS, University of Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
MTA-DE, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Research Group, Egyetem Sq. 1, Debrecen, Hungary.
Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.



Most carabid beetles are particularly sensitive to local habitat characteristics. Although in China grasslands account for more than 40% of the national land, their biodiversity is still poorly known. The aim of this paper is to identify the main environmental characteristics influencing carabid diversity in different types of grassland in northern China.


We investigated the influence of vegetation (plant biomass, cover, density, height and species richness), soil (bulk density, above ground litter, moisture and temperature) and climate (humidity, precipitation and temperature) on carabid community structure (species richness, species composition and functional diversity-measured as body size, movement and total diversity) in three types of grasslands: desert, typical and meadow steppes. We used Canonical correspondence analysis to investigate the role of habitat characteristics on species composition and eigenvector spatial filtering to investigate the responses of species richness and functional diversities.


We found that carabid community structure was strongly influenced by local habitat characteristics and particularly by climatic factors. Carabids in the desert steppe showed the lowest richness and functional diversities. Climate predictors (temperature, precipitation and humidity) had positive effects on carabid species richness at both regional and ecosystem levels, with difference among ecosystems. Plant diversity had a positive influence on carabid richness at the regional level. Soil compaction and temperature were negatively related to species richness at regional level. Climatic factors positively influenced functional diversities, whereas soil temperature had negative effects. Soil moisture and temperature were the most important drivers of species composition at regional level, whereas the relative importance of the various environmental parameters varied among ecosystems.


Carabid responses to environmental characteristics varied among grassland types, which warns against generalizations and indicates that management programs should be considered at grassland scale. Carabid community structure is strongly influenced by climatic factors, and can therefore be particularly sensitive to ongoing climate change.


Bulk density; CCA; Climate factors; ESF; Functional diversity; Meadow; Plant biomass; Rarefied richness; Species composition; Steppe

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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