Dung beetles are insects involved in the organic matter cycle, providing services in ecosystem functions through their feeding and reproductive behavior. Environmental degradation of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil causes a decrease in species richness, which may affect ecosystem processes. However, many of the characteristics related to the ecological functions of dung beetle species remains unknown. Our study aimed to describe the ecological characteristics of dung beetle species that inhabit the natural forest environments of Santa Catarina state, southern Brazil. We used databases from research conducted from 2007 through 2014 coupled with standardized sampling methods to capture copro-necrophagous Scarabaeinae in 103 native Atlantic forest areas in 20 locations in the state of Santa Catarina. The 98 species collected, representing six tribes and 20 genera, were identified, photographed to scale and categorized according to their feeding habit, resource allocation behavior, diel activity, relative abundance, body size, and distribution range in the state. Most of the species were of small size (n = 54) and tunnelers (n = 47), and almost half of the species (n = 42) were found only in one site, while 85 species were considered rare in relative abundance. In addition to contributing to the knowledge of dung beetle ecology in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, this study shows the species distribution in the region and highlights the importance of remaining forest fragments in the maintenance of biodiversity and the ecosystem functions carried out by these beetles.
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Vol. 73 • No. 3