Do carabids (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and chironomids (Diptera: Chironomidae) exhibit similar diversity and distributional patterns along a spatio-temporal gradient on a glacier foreland? Carabids and chironomids along a glacier foreland

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Valeria Lencioni
Mauro Gobbi *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Mauro Gobbi |


Carabid beetles and chironomid midges are two dominant cold-adapted taxa, respectively on glacier forefiel terrains and in glacial-stream rivers. Although their sensitivity to high altitude climate warming is well known, no studies compare the species assemblages exhibited in glacial systems. Our study compares diversity and distributional patterns of carabids and chironomids in the foreland of the receding Amola glacier in central-eastern Italian Alps. Carabids were sampled by pitfall traps; chironomids by kick sampling in sites located at the same distance from the glacier as the terrestrial ones. The distance from the glacier front was considered as a proxy for time since deglaciation since these variables are positively correlated. We tested if the distance from the glacier front affects: i) the species richness; ii) taxonomic diversity; and iii) species turnover. Carabid species richness and taxonomic diversity increased positively from recently deglaciated sites (those c. 160 m from the glacier front) to sites deglaciated more than 160yrs ago (those located >1300 m from glacier front). Species distributions along the glacier foreland were characterized by mutually exclusive species. Conversely, no pattern in chironomid species richness and turnover was observed. Interestingly, taxonomic diversity increased significantly: closely related species were found near the glacier front, while the most taxonomically diverse species assemblages were found distant from the glacier front. Increasing glacial retreat differently affect epigeic and aquatic insect taxa: carabids respond faster to glacier retreat than do chironomids, at least in species richness and species turnover patterns.

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