Landscape Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 843–854 | Cite as

Forest loss and matrix composition are the major drivers shaping dung beetle assemblages in a fragmented rainforest

  • Hilda A. Sánchez-de-Jesús
  • Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez
  • Ellen Andresen
  • Federico Escobar
Research Article



Identifying the drivers shaping biological assemblages in fragmented tropical landscapes is critical for designing effective conservation strategies. It is still unclear, however, whether tropical biodiversity is more strongly affected by forest loss, by its spatial configuration or by matrix composition across different spatial scales.


Assessing the relative influence of forest patch and landscape attributes on dung beetle assemblages in the fragmented Lacandona rainforest, Mexico.


Using a multimodel inference approach we tested the relative impact of forest patch size and landscape forest cover (measures of forest amount at the patch and landscape scales, respectively), patch shape and isolation (forest configuration indices at the patch scale), forest fragmentation (forest configuration index at the landscape scale), and matrix composition on the diversity, abundance and biomass of dung beetles.


Patch size, landscape forest cover and matrix composition were the best predictors of dung beetle assemblages. Species richness, beetle abundance, and biomass decreased in smaller patches surrounded by a lower percentage of forest cover, and in landscapes dominated by open-area matrices. Community evenness also increased under these conditions due to the loss of rare species.


Forest loss at the patch and landscape levels and matrix composition show a larger impact on dung beetles than forest spatial configuration. To preserve dung beetle assemblages, and their key functional roles in the ecosystem, conservation initiatives should prioritize a reduction in deforestation and an increase in the heterogeneity of the matrix surrounding forest remnants.


Biodiversity conservation Forest fragmentation Human-dominated landscapes Lacandona rainforest Land-use change Scarabaeinae 



We thank the insightful comments and suggestions provided by the Subject Editor (Dr. Jochen Krauss) and two anonymous reviewers. This research was funded by the Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica (PAPIIT), DGAPA-UNAM (Projects IA-203111 and IB-200812). H.A.S.J. obtained a scholarship from the CONACyT, Mexico to make her MSc studies in the Posgrado en Ciencias Biologicas, UNAM. The Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad (UNAM) provided logical support. H. Ferreira, A. Palencia and A. López provided technical support, and A. Navarrete provided the SPOT images. C. Dobler digitized the maps, F. Escobar helped in the identification of specimens and S. Nicasio-Arzeta elaborated the Fig. 1. H.A.S.J. is grateful to Audón Jamangapé for his invaluable field assistance. We are indebted to the local people of the Marqués de Comillas region.

Supplementary material

10980_2015_293_MOESM1_ESM.docx (97 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 96 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hilda A. Sánchez-de-Jesús
    • 1
  • Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Ellen Andresen
    • 1
  • Federico Escobar
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y SustentabilidadUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Red de EcoetologíaInstituto de Ecología, A. C.XalapaMexico

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