Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 1583–1606 | Cite as

Restoration ecology meets carabidology: effects of floodplain restitution on ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae)

  • Jens Günther
  • Thorsten Assmann


The effects of different restoration activities on floodplain-inhabiting ground beetles were studied at a lowland river in northwestern Germany. In the 6-km2 project area the bank reinforcement was stopped, the dikes that bordered the river on both sides were removed and two oxbows (disconnected parts of the main stream course) were reconnected to the river. We investigated the banks at two sites at the main river, at the two reconnected oxbows and at two unconnected oxbows as reference sites. To analyse the effects of the removal of the dikes we chose three floodplain sites in front and two reference sites behind the new dike. As a consequence of the lack of bank reinforcement and the reconnection of the oxbows, the area of open river banks, a rare bank structure at rivers in northwestern Germany, increased by a factor of 4.6 during the 4 years of investigation. Numerous stenotopic ground beetle species colonized the newly developed habitats at the main river and at the reconnected oxbows quickly, during several weeks or months, and established new populations as indicated by newly hatched individuals. The removal of the dikes should lead to a rewetting of the floodplain area that is incorporated in the flood dynamics, an important aspect of the development of typical floodplain habitats such as wet meadows, reeds and alluvial forests, while reference sites on the other side of the removed dike remained uninfluenced. Four years after the removal of the dikes no species turnover at the sites with a potentially changed water regime was recorded that indicated a shift of the carabid assemblages towards hygrophilous species. One reason could be the low frequency of inundations and their short duration during the investigation period. The flood dynamics could be sustained by the elevation and enlargement of the river bed, and periodic floods are the key factor for a development of floodplain habitats.


Colonization Dispersal Flood dynamics Floodplain Reconnection of oxbows River regulation Wetland 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EcologyUniversity of LüneburgLuneburgGermany

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