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Strong trait correlation and phylogenetic signal in North American ground beetle (Carabidae) morphology


Stachewicz, JD and Fountain-Jones, NM and Koontz, A and Woolf, H and Pearse, WD and Gallinat, AS, Strong trait correlation and phylogenetic signal in North American ground beetle (Carabidae) morphology, Ecosphere, 12, (11) pp. 1-11. ISSN 0046-1237 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright: 2021 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: doi:10.1002/ecs2.3832


Functional traits mediate species' responses to, and roles within, their environment and are constrained by evolutionary history. While we have a strong understanding of trait evolution for macro-taxa such as birds and mammals, our understanding of invertebrates is comparatively limited. Here, we address this gap in North American beetles with a sample of ground beetles (Carabidae), leveraging a large-scale collection and digitization effort by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). For 154 ground beetle species, we measured seven morphological traits, which we placed into a recently developed effect-response framework that characterizes traits by how they predict species' effects on their ecosystems or responses to environmental stressors. We then used cytochrome oxidase 1 sequences from the same specimens to generate a phylogeny and tested the evolutionary tempo and mode of the traits. We found strong phylogenetic signal in, and correlations among, ground beetle morphological traits. These results indicate that, for these species, beetle body shape trait evolution is constrained, and phylogenetic inertia is a stronger driver of beetle traits than (recent) environmental responses. Strong correlations among effect and response traits suggest that future environmental drivers are likely to affect both ecological composition and functioning in these beetles.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Carabidae, effect trait, functional trait, NEON, phylogeny, response trait
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Forestry
Objective Field:Native forests
UTAS Author:Fountain-Jones, NM (Dr Nicholas Fountain-Jones)
ID Code:152225
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Mathematics
Deposited On:2022-08-15
Last Modified:2022-09-19
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