We evaluated the family-level richness, diversity, evenness, and abundance of ground- and litter-dwelling beetles in two forested areas of southeastern Kentucky for 2 yr, and related beetle diversity to habitat characteristics in these deciduous forests. Using pitfall traps and leaf litter samples, we collected over 13,420 beetle specimens in 42 families during this 2-yr study. Carabidae, Scolytidae, and Staphylinidae were the most abundant families in pitfall traps, and Nitidulidae, Staphylinidae, and Pselaphidae were most common in litter samples. Pitfall traps captured the widest array, with 41 beetle families, whereas litter samples produced 25 families. Plots from Robinson Forest had a higher family richness but lower evenness than Kentucky Ridge Forest plots in both 1997 and 1998. The greater evenness of the families at Kentucky Ridge contributed to a higher Shannon index at Kentucky Ridge than at Robinson Forest, though these differences were significant only in 1998. Kentucky Ridge plots tended to be less rocky, with greater amounts of coarse woody debris, less dense herbaceous cover, a smaller mid-canopy component, and less deciduous cover than Robinson Forest. Family richness, diversity, evenness and abundance varied with site, plot, and sample interval, but the site variables we measured were inconsistent in their ability to predict our response variables, as was the multivariate cluster analysis. The effects of site characteristics and habitat complexity on beetle family diversity are discussed.
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