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Carabidae, effect trait, functional trait, NEON, phylogeny, response trait


Functional traits mediate species’ responses to, and roles within, their environment and are constrained by evolutionary history. While we have a strong understanding of trait evolution for macrotaxa such as birds and mammals, our understanding of invertebrates is comparatively limited. Here, we address this gap in North American beetles with a sample of ground beetles (Carabidae), leveraging a large-scale collection and digitization effort by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). For 154 ground beetle species, we measured seven morphological traits, which we placed into a recently developed effect–response framework that characterizes traits by how they predict species’ effects on their ecosystems or responses to environmental stressors. We then used cytochrome oxidase 1 sequences from the same specimens to generate a phylogeny and tested the evolutionary tempo and mode of the traits. We found strong phylogenetic signal in, and correlations among, ground beetle morphological traits. These results indicate that, for these species, beetle body shape trait evolution is constrained, and phylogenetic inertia is a stronger driver of beetle traits than (recent) environmental responses. Strong correlations among effect and response traits suggest that future environmental drivers are likely to affect both ecological composition and functioning in these beetles.

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