Ground beetles often prey on crop pests, and their relative abundance and assemblages vary among cropping systems and pest management practices. We used pitfall traps arranged in transects to study ground beetle assemblages in a large field-scale Bt corn–soybean cropping system for 3 yr. The transgenic corn expressed the Cry1Ab protein targeting lepidopteran pests. Three of the 57 ground beetle species collected accounted for 81% of all individuals captured. Six other species accounted for an additional 14% of all beetles captured. Ground beetles were captured equally in cornfields and soybean fields. They also were captured most frequently at field edges, but many were captured within field centers. Canonical correspondence analysis was used to arrange ground beetles along environmental gradients. Years 2001 and 2002 were the primary variables separating assemblages of ground beetles along the first canonical axis. The second canonical axis further separated the 2000 assemblage of ground beetles. With the effects of year and field removed, ground beetles were classified with respect to crop association and distance into the fields along axes 1 and 2 of a partial canonical correspondence analysis. Based on this analysis, ground beetles occupying the Bt cornfields were separated from those occupying soybean fields along the first canonical axis. The second canonical axis separated beetles occupying the field borders from field interiors. Ground beetles ordinating near the center of the axes may represent habitat generalists, and because of their high relative abundances, continuous seasonal activity, predatory nature, and ability to occupy field centers, they could assist in the biological control of agricultural pests.
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