Ground beetles and tiger beetlesDavid R. Maddison
This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.
The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.
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Carabids (as here treated) include all of the terrestrial adephagans other than trachypachids. This is by far the largest family of Adephaga, with over 30,000 described species. Among the more well-known members of the family are the genus Carabus (Carabini), bombardier beetles (Brachinini), and tiger beetles (Cicindelitae).
The vast majority of carabids are predacious. Most of these are generalist predators, but there are a number of groups that have become specialized (e.g., Peleciini and Promecognathini on millipedes, Cychrini and Licinini on snails). A few clades have larvae that are ectoparasitoids on other arthropods (e.g., Lebiini, Brachinitae, and Peleciini). Others are seed-eaters (e.g., Harpalini).
There are very few derived features that delimit carabids. In adults, the metacoxae are narrower than other adephagans, with the metapleuron extending posteriorly to contact the second abdominal sternite. There are also a few minor features in the head structure and musculature of larvae (see Beutel, 1995, for a summary).
Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships
While carabid phylogeny has been extensively studied, the convergences and reversals present in morphological traits has lead to a great deal of controversy about many groups. Two of these groups, the tiger beetles (Cicindelitae) and wrinkled bark beetles (Rhysodini) are often considered outside the carabid clade. The phylogeny shown of carabid tribes on this and other pages is a conservative consensus view, in which a large number of "basal" groups give rise to a middle and upper grade of carabids. Within this latter group is a large, relatively uniform clade, the Harpalinae, which includes many of the larger, more common carabids.
Included below the tree are a number of especially enigmatic groups, including Gehringiini and Rhysodini, which may be older lineages, related to groups in this page, or they may instead be related to groups within the Carabidae Conjunctae. Their placement, along with the resolution of other aspects of carabid phylogeny, awaits numerical analysis of available morphological and molecular data.
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About This Page
David R. Maddison
Oregon State University
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to David R. Maddison at
Page copyright © 1995 David R. Maddison
Page: Tree of Life Carabidae. Ground beetles and tiger beetles. Authored by David R. Maddison. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.
- First online 16 November 1994
- Content changed 11 April 2006
Citing this page:
Maddison, David R. 2006. Carabidae. Ground beetles and tiger beetles. Version 11 April 2006 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Carabidae/8895/2006.04.11 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/