Habitat fragmentation and the widespread creation of habitat edges have recently stimulated interest in assessing the effects of ecotones on biodiversity. Ecotones, natural or anthropogenic, can greatly affect faunal movement, population dynamics, species interactions, and community structure. Few data exist, however, on insect community response to forest–savanna ecotones, a natural analog to anthropogenically cleared areas adjacent to forest. In this study, the abundance, total biomass, average individual biomass, and distribution of scarabaeine dung beetles were examined at a sharp tropical evergreen forest–savanna ecotone in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The abundance, total biomass, and average individual biomass of dung beetles varied significantly across the forest, edge, and savanna habitats. Species richness (Sobs) also varied significantly across the three habitats, but statistical estimations of true species richness (Sest) did not. Habitat specificity of the dung beetles in this study was extremely high. Of the 50 most common species collected during the study, only 2 species were collected in both the forest and savanna habitats, signaling nearly complete community turnover in just a few meters. Strong edge effects were evidenced by the decline in abundance, total biomass, and species richness at the forest–savanna boundary.
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Vol. 35 • No. 3