Northeastern U.S. farms are often situated adjacent to forestland due to the heterogeneous nature of the landscape. We investigated how forested areas influence Carabidae diversity within nearby crop fields by establishing transects of pitfall traps. Trapping extended across a forest-agriculture ecotone consisting of maize, an intermediate mowed grass margin, and a forest edge. Carabidae diversity was compared among the three habitats, and community and population dynamics were assessed along the transect. We used a principal response curve to examine and visualize community change across a spatial gradient. The highest levels of richness and evenness were observed in the forest community, and carabid assemblages shifted significantly across the ecotone, especially at the forest-grass interface. Despite strong ecotone effects, population distributions showed that some species were found in all three habitats and seemed to thrive at the ecotone. Based on similarity indices, carabid assemblages collected in maize adjacent to forest differed from carabid assemblages in maize not adjacent to forest. We conclude that forest carabid assemblages exhibit high degrees of dissimilarity with those found in agricultural fields and forested areas should thus be retained in agricultural landscapes to increase biodiversity at the landscape scale. However, ecotone species found at forest edges can still noticeably influence carabid community composition within neighboring agricultural fields. Further studies should determine how these shifts in carabid assemblages influence agroecosystem services in relation to ecosystem services observed in fields embedded in an agricultural matrix.
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