Little is known about the distribution and relative abundance of leaf beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) within the United States. However, recent extensive collecting efforts within Kentucky, as well as the compilation and digitization of label data from seven museum collections, have resulted in distribution data for 11,079 beetles collected between 1884 and 2007. We used an integrated approach to assign abundance classifications of rare, local, infrequent, frequent, and abundant to the 253 known leaf beetle species recorded, incorporating both specimen data and our knowledge of the dataset. We initially selected a recently collected subset of 149 species, which were assigned preliminary subjective classifications. Possible index calculations were applied to all 253 species, and the calculation whose order was most aligned with the subjective classifications was chosen. Cutoffs between categories (e.g., abundant to frequent) were identified using subjective classifications as well as natural breaks in data or index values. Final classifications resulted in 132 rare, 38 local, 44 infrequent, 20 frequent, and 19 abundant species. These categories were 81.9% consistent with those given an initial subjective classification. In order to assess the ability of our abundance classifications to differentiate habitat types and quality, we used contingency analysis to compare leaf beetle species composition from two habitats (a native grassland nature preserve and a research farm). Species composition between these two habitats was significantly different (Pearson's χ2=11.4, P = 0.023). Our results indicate that quantitative data can be used to establish consistent abundance classifications, which can then be used to compare species composition of different habitats or communities.
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