Response of female beetles to LIDAR derived topographic variables in Eastern boreal mixedwood forests (Coleoptera, Carabidae).
Timothy Work, Benoît St-Onge, Jenna Jacobs.
Biodiversity monitoring is increasingly being bolstered with high resolution data derived from remote sensing such as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). We derived a series of topographical variables, including slope, azimuth, ground curvature and flow accumulation from LIDAR images and compared these to captures of female carabids in pitfall traps in Eastern boreal mixedwood forests. We developed a series of species-specific logistic models predicting the proportion of females for eight dominant species, including Agonum retractum, Calathus ingratus, Platynus decentis, Pterostichus adstrictus, Pterostichus coracinus, Pterostichus pensylvanicus, Sphaeroderus nitidicollis and Synuchus impunctatus. We used these models to test three hypotheses related to how the modest topography in boreal forests could influence the availability of microhabitats and possibly potential sites for oviposition and larval development. In general, topographic features such as north facing slopes and high flow accumulation were important predictors of the proportion of females. Models derived from larger scale topography, such as hillsides or small watersheds on the order of ¼-1 ha were better predictors of the proportion of females than were models derived from finer scale topography such as hummocks and small depressions. We conclude that topography likely influences the distribution of carabids based on hydrological mechanisms rather than factors related to temperature. We further suggest based on the scale of responses that these hydrological mechanisms may be linked to the attenuation of past disturbances by wildfire and the propensity of unburned forest patches and fire skips.