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1 April 2010 Removal Rates of Native and Exotic Dung by Dung Beetles (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) in a Fragmented Tropical Rain Forest
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Many studies have evaluated the effect of forest fragmentation on dung beetle assemblage structure. However, few have analyzed how forest fragmentation affects the processes carried out by these insects in tropical forests where their food sources consist mainly of dung produced by native herbivore mammals. With the conversion of forests to pastures, cattle dung has become an exotic alternative and abundant food for dung beetles. This study compares dung removal rates of native (monkey) and exotic (cow) dung in different-sized fragments of tropical rain forests, during the dry and rainy seasons at the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve. Dung removal rates were affected by season, dung type, and the interaction between resource type and season. During the dry season, the removal rates of monkey dung were somewhat similar than during the rainy season, whereas the removal rates of cow dung were much higher during the rainy season. Dung beetle biomass and species richness were almost three times greater in monkey dung than in cow dung. Monkey dung attracted species belonging to the dweller, roller, and tunneler guilds; cow dung attracted mostly tunnelers. Therefore, the use of exotic dung may result in a biased misconception of the rates of dung removal in tropical forest and an underestimation of dung beetle diversity. This study highlights the importance of working with natural tropical forest resources when attempting to identify realistic tendencies concerning processes in natural habitats and those modified by fragmentation and by other human activities.
©2010 Entomological Society of America
Sandra Amézquita and Mario E. Favila "Removal Rates of Native and Exotic Dung by Dung Beetles (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) in a Fragmented Tropical Rain Forest," Environmental Entomology 39(2), (1 April 2010).
Received: 6 July 2009; Accepted: 1 September 2009; Published: 1 April 2010

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