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Defining the baseline for river restoration: comparing carabid beetle diversity of natural and human-impacted riparian habitats

Sprößig, Claudia; Buchholz, Sascha; Dziock, Frank

Near-natural rivers and riparian ecosystems can represent biodiversity hotspots harbouring many highly specialised, rare and endangered species. During the past centuries, these habitats have been heavily degraded by anthropogenic use, and therefore river restoration is one of the most striking fields of action that is legally defined by the European Union Water Framework Directive. Successful restoration depends on realistic and specified targets that should be defined beforehand and founded on status quo surveys. We present a comparison of carabid beetle communities in riparian habitats of natural and managed river sites of the Mulde River in the Biosphere Reserve Middle Elbe. This endeavour is part of a unique multi-level revitalisation project. Pitfall trapping in 2016 and 2017 yielded 111 carabid species with many species of conservation concern in natural and managed habitats. However, Simpson diversity and functional diversity were lower in the latter. Both habitats harboured specific species assemblages with characteristic indicator species. Additionally, the trap location on slip-off slopes or cut banks was a significant driver of species composition. Our results indicate high ecological development potentials for the Mulde River, but restoration should consider differences between slip-off slopes and cut-off banks. We postulate that future restoration will foster population increases as well as a wider distribution of rare and endangered riparian habitat specialists.
Published in: Journal of Insect Conservation, 10.1007/s10841-020-00253-z, SpringerNature