Got Dung? Resource Selection by Dung Beetles in Neotropical Forest Fragments and Cattle Pastures

Abstract

Both the impact of habitat modification on the food preferences of species and its impact on ecosystem functioning are poorly understood. In this study, we analyzed food selection by dung beetles in 80 tropical forest fragments and their adjacent cattle pastures in the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Ten pitfall traps were placed at each site, half baited with human dung and the other half with fish carrion. We assessed dung beetle food selection and classified any specialization in resource use quantitatively using a multinomial classification model. We collected 15,445 beetles belonging to 42 species, 8747 beetles (38 species) in forest fragments and 6698 beetles (29 species) in cattle pastures. Twenty-five species were present in both habitats. Of all the beetles captured, 76% were caught in dung traps (11,727 individuals) and 24% in carrion traps (3718 individuals). We found 21 species of dung specialists, 7 carrion specialists, 8 generalists, and 6 species too rare to classify. The bait most frequently selected by beetles in this study was dung in both forests and pastures. Specialists tended to remain specialists in both habitats, while generalists tended to change their selection of bait type depending on the habitat. In summary, our results show that replacing forests with cattle pastures modifies the patterns of resource selection by dung beetles and this could affect ecosystem functioning.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Fernando Escobar Hernández for confirming our dung beetle identifications, Susan G. Letcher for the assistance with the CLAM analysis, Juan José Von Thaden for the help with the maps, Andrés J. Quesada and Bianca Delfosse for the style correction of the manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers for the comments that greatly improved the manuscript. This research was funded by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México (CONACYT scholarship 477922 and CONACYT project 37514-V).

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Correspondence to F Escobar.

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Edited by Marcelo N Rossi – Unifesp

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Bourg, A., Escobar, F., MacGregor-Fors, I. et al. Got Dung? Resource Selection by Dung Beetles in Neotropical Forest Fragments and Cattle Pastures. Neotrop Entomol 45, 490–498 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-016-0397-7

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Keywords

  • Los Tuxtlas, Mexico, multinomial classification model, pasture, resource use, Scarabaeinae