Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) are a major component of terrestrial invertebrate communities and have been used as bioindicators of habitat change and disturbance. The Black Hills of South Dakota is a small area with a high biodiversity, but the ground beetles of this region are little studied. The habitat preferences of ground beetles in the Black Hills are unknown, and baseline data must be collected if these beetles are to be used in the future as bioindicators. Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) were collected from pitfall traps at two sites in each of five kinds of habitats (grassland, bur oak—ironwood forests, ponderosa pine—common juniper forests, aspen—pine forests, and a spruce forest) from which habitat structure characteristics and plant abundance data also were collected. In total, 27 species of ground beetles were identified. Although some species, such as Dicaelus sculptilis Say were found in most habitats, other species showed distinct habitat preferences: Poecilus lucublandus (Say) preferred oak forests, Pasimachus elongatus LeConte preferred grasslands, and Calathus ingratus Dejean preferred high-elevation aspen—pine forests. Pterostichus adstrictus Escholtz was found only in woodlands, and Carabus taedatus Say strictly in higher elevation (over 1,500 m) aspen or coniferous woods, and may represent relict populations of boreal species. Elevation, exposure to sunlight, and cover of woody plants strongly influence the structure of carabid communities in the Black Hills.
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Vol. 41 • No. 5