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1 June 2002 Dung Beetle Communities and Seed Dispersal in Primary Forest and Disturbed Land in Amazonia
Kevina Vulinec
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Seeds from tropical fruiting trees ingested and defecated on the soil surface by primary dispersers (such as primates) are vulnerable to destruction from rodents, insects, and fungi. Burial by dung beetles as an incidental result of their feeding and nesting activities often provides these seeds with refugia from attack. To examine the effect of habitat disturbance on the dung beetle communities involved in this process, I surveyed dung beetles at three sites in the Amazon basin, in the states of Pará, Amazonas, and Rondônia, Brazil. Through principal component analysis on measurements of size and behavioral characters of beetles, I determined the relative quality of beetle species as seed dispersers (dispersal defined as horizontal or vertical movement of seeds) and ranked them into seed dispersal guilds. I used correspondence analysis to examine in what habitats (primary forest or varying degrees of disturbed habitat) these guilds were abundant. Most guilds decreased with increasing habitat disturbance, but one guild made up of large nocturnal burrowers (primarily Dichotomius) became more abundant with increasing disturbance (up to the level of highest disturbance surveyed), at which point all dung beetle species became scarce. Clear-cuts had lower species richness, lower abundance, and lower biomass than forested areas. These results imply that clear-cutting is detrimental to all seed dispersal dynamics in tropical rain forests, but that some levels of disturbance allow enough disperser activity to preserve this ecosystem function.

Kevina Vulinec "Dung Beetle Communities and Seed Dispersal in Primary Forest and Disturbed Land in Amazonia," BIOTROPICA 34(2), 297-309, (1 June 2002).[0297:DBCASD]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 June 2002

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community analyses
dung beetles
rain forest disturbance
seed dispersal
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