The capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris (L.) (Rodentia: Caviidae), is the largest herbivorous rodent on Earth and abundant in the Neotropical region, which can provide a stable food source of dung for dung beetle communities (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). However, the use of capybara dung by dung beetles is poorly known. Here, we present data on the structure of the dung beetle community attracted to capybara dung and compare with the community attracted to human feces. Dung beetles were captured with pitfall traps baited with fresh capybara dung and human feces in pastures with exotic grass (Brachiaria spp.), patches of Brazilian savanna (Cerrado), and points of degraded riparian vegetation along the Aquidauana river in Anasta´cio and Aquidauana, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. In traps baited with human feces, 13,809 individuals of 31 species were captured, and in those baited with capybara dung 1,027 individuals belonging to 26 species were captured. The average number of individuals and species captured by the traps baited with human feces was greater than for capybara dung in all habitats studied. Composition of the communities attracted to human feces and capybara dung formed distinct groups in all habitats. Despite the smaller number of species and individuals captured in capybara dung when compared with human feces, capybara dung was attractive to dung beetles. In Brazil, the legalization of hunting these rodents has been debated, which would potentially affect the community and consequently the ecological functions performed by dung beetles that use the feces of these animals as a resource. In addition, the knowledge of the communities associated with capybaras may be important in predicting the consequences of future management of their populations.
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Vol. 42 • No. 6