Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Entomology (MS)

Degree Level





Ashley Dowling

Committee Member

Tim Kring

Second Committee Member

Marlis Douglas


Biological sciences, Arthropod, Carabidae, Gnaphosidae, Leaf litter, Phenology, Seasonality


Temperate deciduous forests produce a layer of leaf litter on the forest floor annually. This layer is dynamic, and both the composition and depth change throughout the year. The leaf litter layer is an important habitat to many arthropods since they utilize it for food, shelter from adverse environmental conditions, and protection from predators.

Two commonly encountered and diverse taxa found in the litter layer are the ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and the ground spiders (Araneae: Gnaphosidae). Carabidae and Gnaphosidae were collected and identified on a monthly basis from April 2014 to March 2015 from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas to measure temporal fluctuations of species diversity and abundance. A total of 480 Berlese samples and 208 pitfall trap samples were collected and processed from four sites across Northwest Arkansas including: Lake Wedington, Lake Wilson, and Withrow Springs 1&2. From those samples, 645 carabid individuals of 47 species were collected and 421 gnaphosid individuals of 15 species were collected.

Berlese samples from all four sites yielded a total of 194 carabid individuals of 29 species and 160 gnaphosid individuals of 10 species, whereas pitfall traps from two sites yielded 451 carabid individuals of 30 species and 261 gnaphosid individuals of 14 species. Statistical analyses detected no significant differences in number of individuals and species diversity of carabids and gnaphosids among sites, whereas species richness did differ among sites for carabids. Similarly, leaf litter depth had no significant effect on the number of individuals collected, species richness (with exception to carabids at Withrow 1), or species diversity of carabids and gnaphosids. Carabids were the most abundant and diverse during the spring and were the least abundant and diverse during the winter. Gnaphosids were the most abundant and diverse during the spring and were the least abundant in the fall and the least diverse in the winter.

Included in

Entomology Commons