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Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 352–361 | Cite as

Parasites and Dung Beetles as Ecosystem Engineers in a Forest Ecosystem

  • Broox G. V. BozeEmail author
  • Alexander D. Hernandez
  • Michael A. Huffman
  • Janice Moore
Article

Abstract

Dung beetles serve as the intermediate host for Streptopharagus pigmentatus, a nematode parasite that infects an old world primate, the Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata). This study compares the behaviors of infected and uninfected beetles in both transmission dynamics and the ecological role of the parasite. The results suggest that parasitism does not alter the beetle’s use of shelter or choice of substrate on Yakushima Island, Japan. However, infected beetles consume significantly less feces. Dung beetles remove the majority of fecal material in this forest ecosystem, eliminating breeding grounds for many insect pests and burying nutrients that are essential for plant health. Thus, the nematode parasite S. pigmentatus, by altering its host’s behavior, changes the availability of fecal resources to both plant and animal communities and should therefore be classified as an ecosystem engineer.

Keywords

Dung beetle nematode behavioral modification ecosystem engineer Yakushima 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Financial support for this study was provided the National Science Foundation and Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute. The National Science Foundation also provided funding for Broox Boze through the Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate program.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Broox G. V. Boze
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alexander D. Hernandez
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michael A. Huffman
    • 2
  • Janice Moore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Social Behavior, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan
  3. 3.Center for Infectious Disease DynamicsThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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