Center for Systematic Entomology, Gainesville, Florida


Date of this Version



Insecta Mundi 0259: 1–58


Published in 2012 by Center for Systematic Entomology, Inc. P. O. Box 141874 Gainesville, FL 32614-1874 USA

Copyright held by the author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons, Attribution Non-Commercial License.


The community within extremely decayed downed coarse woody debris, here referred to as decay class V (CWD5), has never been systematically sampled. The presumption has been that rotten wood is eventually overrun by surrounding soil and litter inhabitants. Leaf litter and CWD5 were sampled for Coleoptera with a sifting/ Berlese technique at three primary and three secondary forest sites in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA, during fall 2006 and spring 2007. A total of 4261 adult beetle specimens, representing 216 lowest identifiable taxa within 159 genera and 28 families, were collected. Sixty-six species (31%) were represented by single individuals. Many more specimens (3471) and species (170) were collected from leaf litter than from CWD5 (790 and 111, respectively) but species accumulation curves showed that species richness was not significantly different between the two habitats. Eight species were significantly associated with CWD5, and 40 species were significantly associated with leaf litter. Species richness was significantly higher in secondary forest than primary forest, but more species were significantly associated with primary than secondary forest. Species richness was significantly higher in spring than fall. Notes on the biology and photographs of the 59 species represented by 10 or more specimens are given to provide an atlas of common eastern U.S. beetle species found in these habitats. Overall CWD5 is a distinct but overlooked habitat that may harbor numerous undescribed species or species considered rare.