Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

A review of the extensive variation in the design of pitfall traps, and a proposal for a standard pitfall trap design for monitoring ground-active arthropod biodiversity

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Open Access permissions



To understand change in global biodiversity patterns requires large-scale, long-term monitoring. The ability to draw meaningful comparison across studies is severely hampered by extensive variation in the design of the sampling equipment and how it is used. Here, we present a meta-analysis and description highlighting this variation in a common, widely used entomological survey technique. We report a decline in the completeness of methodological reporting over a 20-year period, while there has been no clear reduction in the methodological variation between researchers using pitfall traps for arthropod sampling. There is a growing need for improved comparability between studies to facilitate the generation of large-scale, long-term biodiversity datasets. However, our results show that, counterproductive to this goal, over the last 20 years there has little progress in reducing the methodological variation. We propose a standardized pitfall trap design for the study of ground-active arthropods. In addition, we provide a table to promote a more standardized reporting of the key methodological variables. Widespread adoption of more standardized methods and reporting would facilitate more nuanced analysis of biodiversity change.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3953-3964
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number12
Early online date12 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2016

    Research areas

  • Araneae, Biodiversity sampling, Carabidae, Formicidae, Pitfall trap, Standard design

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. First DNA barcode for the enigmatic Leiobunum sp. A (Arachnida; Opiliones)

    Brown, G. R., 5 Aug 2019, In: Arachnology. 18, 2, p. 94-96

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. A rapid protocol for generating arthropod DNA barcodes suitable for use with undergraduate students

    Brown, G. R., Dagen, C. A., Reilly O'Donnell, B. & Graves, J. A., 23 May 2019, In: Journal of Biological Education. Latest Articles, 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. BioTIME: a database of biodiversity time series for the Anthropocene

    Dornelas, M., Antão, L. H., Moyes, F., Bates, A. E., Magurran, A. E., Adam, D., Akhmetzhanova, A. A., Appeltans, W., Arcos, J. M., Arnold, H., Ayyappan, N., Badihi, G., Baird, A. H., Barbosa, M., Barreto, T. E., Bässler, C., Bellgrove, A., Belmaker, J., Benedetti-cecchi, L., Bett, B. J. & 250 others, Bjorkman, A. D., Błażewicz, M., Blowes, S. A., Bloch, C. P., Bonebrake, T. C., Boyd, S., Bradford, M., Brooks, A. J., Brown, J. H., Bruelheide, H., Budy, P., Carvalho, F., Castañeda-moya, E., Chen, C. A., Chamblee, J. F., Chase, T. J., Siegwart Collier, L., Collinge, S. K., Condit, R., Cooper, E. J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Cotano, U., Kyle Crow, S., Damasceno, G., Davies, C. H., Davis, R. A., Day, F. P., Degraer, S., Doherty, T. S., Dunn, T. E., Durigan, G., Duffy, J. E., Edelist, D., Edgar, G. J., Elahi, R., Elmendorf, S. C., Enemar, A., Ernest, S. K. M., Escribano, R., Estiarte, M., Evans, B. S., Fan, T., Turini Farah, F., Loureiro Fernandes, L., Farneda, F. Z., Fidelis, A., Fitt, R., Fosaa, A. M., Daher Correa Franco, G. A., Frank, G. E., Fraser, W. R., García, H., Cazzolla Gatti, R., Givan, O., Gorgone-barbosa, E., Gould, W. A., Gries, C., Grossman, G. D., Gutierréz, J. R., Hale, S., Harmon, M. E., Harte, J., Haskins, G., Henshaw, D. L., Hermanutz, L., Hidalgo, P., Higuchi, P., Hoey, A., Van Hoey, G., Hofgaard, A., Holeck, K., Hollister, R. D., Holmes, R., Hoogenboom, M., Hsieh, C., Hubbell, S. P., Huettmann, F., Huffard, C. L., Hurlbert, A. H., Macedo Ivanauskas, N., Janík, D., Jandt, U., Jażdżewska, A., Johannessen, T., Johnstone, J., Jones, J., Jones, F. A. M., Kang, J., Kartawijaya, T., Keeley, E. C., Kelt, D. A., Kinnear, R., Klanderud, K., Knutsen, H., Koenig, C. C., Kortz, A. R., Král, K., Kuhnz, L. A., Kuo, C., Kushner, D. J., Laguionie-marchais, C., Lancaster, L. T., Min Lee, C., Lefcheck, J. S., Lévesque, E., Lightfoot, D., Lloret, F., Lloyd, J. D., López-baucells, A., Louzao, M., Madin, J. S., Magnússon, B., Malamud, S., Matthews, I., Mcfarland, K. P., Mcgill, B., Mcknight, D., Mclarney, W. O., Meador, J., Meserve, P. L., Metcalfe, D. J., Meyer, C. F. J., Michelsen, A., Milchakova, N., Moens, T., Moland, E., Moore, J., Mathias Moreira, C., Müller, J., Murphy, G., Myers-smith, I. H., Myster, R. W., Naumov, A., Neat, F., Nelson, J. A., Paul Nelson, M., Newton, S. F., Norden, N., Oliver, J. C., Olsen, E. M., Onipchenko, V. G., Pabis, K., Pabst, R. J., Paquette, A., Pardede, S., Paterson, D. M., Pélissier, R., Peñuelas, J., Pérez-matus, A., Pizarro, O., Pomati, F., Post, E., Prins, H. H. T., Priscu, J. C., Provoost, P., Prudic, K. L., Pulliainen, E., Ramesh, B. R., Mendivil Ramos, O., Rassweiler, A., Rebelo, J. E., Reed, D. C., Reich, P. B., Remillard, S. M., Richardson, A. J., Richardson, J. P., Van Rijn, I., Rocha, R., Rivera-monroy, V. H., Rixen, C., Robinson, K. P., Ribeiro Rodrigues, R., De Cerqueira Rossa-feres, D., Rudstam, L., Ruhl, H., Ruz, C. S., Sampaio, E. M., Rybicki, N., Rypel, A., Sal, S., Salgado, B., Santos, F. A. M., Savassi-coutinho, A. P., Scanga, S., Schmidt, J., Schooley, R., Setiawan, F., Shao, K., Shaver, G. R., Sherman, S., Sherry, T. W., Siciński, J., Sievers, C., Da Silva, A. C., Rodrigues Da Silva, F., Silveira, F. L., Slingsby, J., Smart, T., Snell, S. J., Soudzilovskaia, N. A., Souza, G. B. G., Maluf Souza, F., Castro Souza, V., Stallings, C. D., Stanforth, R., Stanley, E. H., Mauro Sterza, J., Stevens, M., Stuart-smith, R., Rondon Suarez, Y., Supp, S., Yoshio Tamashiro, J., Tarigan, S., Thiede, G. P., Thorn, S., Tolvanen, A., Teresa Zugliani Toniato, M., Totland, Ø., Twilley, R. R., Vaitkus, G., Valdivia, N., Vallejo, M. I., Valone, T. J., Van Colen, C., Vanaverbeke, J., Venturoli, F., Verheye, H. M., Vianna, M., Vieira, R. P., Vrška, T., Quang Vu, C., Van Vu, L., Waide, R. B., Waldock, C., Watts, D., Webb, S., Wesołowski, T., White, E. P., Widdicombe, C. E., Wilgers, D., Williams, R., Williams, S. B., Williamson, M., Willig, M. R., Willis, T. J., Wipf, S., Woods, K. D., Woehler, E. J., Zawada, K. & Zettler, M. L., 24 Jul 2018, In: Global Ecology and Biogeography. 27, 7, p. 760-786 27 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Bidirectional Flower Color and Shape Changes Allow a Second Opportunity for Pollination

    Willmer, P. G., Stanley, D. A., Steijven, K., Matthews, I. M. & Nuttman, C. V., 9 Jun 2009, In: Current Biology. 19, 11, p. 919-923 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Genic capture and the genetic basis of sexually selected traits in the zebra finch

    Birkhead, T. R., Pellatt, E. J., Matthews, I. M., Roddis, N. J., Hunter, F. M., McPhie, F. & Castillo-Juarez, H., Nov 2006, In: Evolution. 60, 11, p. 2389-2398 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Ecology and Evolution (Journal)

    Joanna Louise Kershaw (Reviewer)

    23 Jan 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Ecology and Evolution (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)

    28 Sep 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Ecology and Evolution (Journal)

    Matt Carter (Reviewer)


    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  4. Ecology and Evolution (Journal)

    Nora Nell Hanson (Reviewer)


    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  5. Ecology and Evolution (Journal)

    David Michael Shuker (Member of editorial board)


    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. A single pleiotropic locus influences the rate of hybridization between two sibling species of Lygaeus bugs

    Balfour, V., Black, D. & Shuker, D. M., Nov 2020, In: Ecology and Evolution. 10, 21, p. 12224-12232 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Feral populations of Brassica oleracea along Atlantic coasts in western Europe

    Mittell, E. A., Cobbold, C. A., Ijaz, U. Z., Kilbride, E. A., Moore, K. A. & Mable, B. K., 24 Sep 2020, In: Ecology and Evolution. Early View, 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Immunogenetic and tolerance strategies against a novel parasitoid of wild field crickets

    Sikkink, K. L., Bailey, N. W., Zuk, M. & Balenger, S. L., 26 Oct 2020, In: Ecology and Evolution. Early view, 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Using continuous-time spatial capture–recapture models to make inference about animal activity patterns

    Distiller, G. B., Borchers, D. L., Foster, R. J. & Harmsen, B. J., 9 Oct 2020, In: Ecology and Evolution. Early View, 12 p., e6822.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. A local evaluation of the individual state-space to scale up Bayesian spatial capture–recapture

    Milleret, C., Dupont, P., Bonenfant, C., Brøseth, H., Flagstad, Ø., Sutherland, C. & Bischof, R., Jan 2019, In: Ecology and Evolution. 9, 1, p. 352-363 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 241081984