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Influence of Fire and Trapping Effort on Ground
Beetles in a Reconstructed Tallgrass Prairie


Fire is a natural component of the grassland ecosystem (Collins and Wallace 1990) and is regularly used as a prairie management technique. However, little information is available on the effects of fire on prairie insects including the Coleoptera (Eyre and Rushton 1989). As many species of ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) are highly selective and often restricted to a particular habitat (Thiele 1977, Evans 1983), some species may be useful indicators of biological disturbance (Dufrêne et al. 1990, Maelfait and Desender 1990). Therefore, our study is part of an ongoing project using ground beetles (see Purrington and Larsen 1997) to explore the effects of tallgrass prairie management techniques such as fire on prairie insects.

We evaluated the effects of fire on the ground beetle community in Anderson Prairie, a reconstructed tallgrass prairie in Decorah, Iowa. Our objectives were to 1) identify the carabid species, which inhabit this reconstructed tallgrass prairie, 2) determine the peak adult activity periods of these carabids, 3) quantify the impact of spring burning on the ground beetle fauna, and 4) clarify if short-term sampling with pitfall traps can be an adequate substitute to season-long sampling for quantifying the effects of fire on ground beetles of tallgrass prairies.

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