Habitat fragmentation is the process of reducing habitat area while increasing the number and isolation of habitat patches. Although much of Indiana's land area was historically covered with contiguous forests, remaining forests are now heavily fragmented. This is especially true in northeastern Indiana where agriculture is the dominant land use cover type. Loss of functional forests in northeast Indiana could lead to a loss of biodiversity at a regional scale. Ground-dwelling arthropods have been used frequently as biological indicator taxa of forest health. We characterized 10 typical northeast Indiana forest plant communities and inventoried ground-dwelling arthropod communities within those forests. Plant community and environmental heterogeneity within forests were used to assess forest complexity, and ground-dwelling arthropod communities were compared to forest environmental characteristics. Our forest comparisons revealed plant community and structural heterogeneity differences. While overstory and understory diversity, compositional heterogeneity, and litter depth did have influence on arthropod communities' relative dissimilarities in nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination plots, those communities were similar across all forest patches. However, those same environmental variables did not have direct influence on overall arthropod abundance, richness, or diversity. Even though differences did occur in forest structure and composition, arthropod communities had high similarity values, especially in August. As the forests in the region are similar in type and structure, between-forest comparisons of arthropod communities showed corresponding similarities in composition, abundance, richness, and diversity.
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Vol. 186 • No. 1