International Journal of Tropical Insect Science

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 157–171 | Cite as

Patterns of morphology in carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) along a Neotropical altitudinal gradient

  • Sarah A. MaveetyEmail author
  • Robert A. Browne
Review Article


In the present study, body length and dispersal ability were examined in carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) sampled in the Peruvian Andes along two altitudinal gradients: old-growth forest and anthropogenically disturbed region. Dispersal ability was estimated by the flight-wing condition (i.e. macropterous or brachypterous) and the cuticular length of the flight muscle (medial length of the metasternum). The relationship between body length and altitude for combined gradients varied by tribe; all possible relationships were found: positive; negative; no relationship. At the family level, a negative relationship between altitude and insect body length was found; this was predicted because of a decrease in the diversity of resources, habitat area and primary productivity, and the increase in the unfavourable environment observed at high altitudes. Flight muscle length was also highly variable among tribes; however, for combined gradients, a negative correlation with altitude was found at the family level. Some tribes were either completely macropterous or brachypterous, but at the family level, the percentage of brachyptery increased with altitude. We suggest two hypotheses that may explain the increased incidence of flightlessness observed with increasing altitude: constraints of energy use and reduced need for dispersal potential. At the family level, carabid beetles tended to have a greater body length and decreased brachyptery in disturbed regions compared with old-growth forests. Increased dispersal ability was expected because of the need to find a suitable habitat in disturbed areas. Observed relationships may depend upon which tribes are examined and whether the forest on an altitudinal gradient has been disturbed.

Key words

body size brachyptery Carabidae cloud forest dispersal ability elevation ground beetles Puna wing state 


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Copyright information

© ICIPE 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

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