Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is a private game reserve covering 1,020 km2 in the Northern Cape, South Africa. It has been created from a number of reclaimed farms and restocked with large indigenous mammals. Two surveys were conducted to inventory the dung beetle fauna (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) and determine their spatial patterns and food type associations. The spatial survey used pig dung—baited pitfall traps to examine dung beetle distribution across three main landscape types (plains, dunes, hills) comprising six principal vegetation communities. The food study examined their relative associations with carrion and four different dung types within a single vegetation community. A total of 70 species was recorded. Because the food association study was spatially restricted and conducted under drought conditions, abundance and species richness (47 species) were much lower than in the spatial study (64 species), which was conducted after substantial rainfall. Principal spatial differences in species abundance structure of assemblages were between the sandy southwest plains and dunes; the sandy northern dune fields and plains; and the rocky hills. Forty species analyzed in the food association study showed clear distributional biases to carrion or the dung of elephant (monogastric herbivore), pig (omnivore), cattle and sheep (ruminant herbivores), or pig and cattle. The results (1) show how dung beetle assemblage structure is locally diversified across the heterogeneous landscape of the reserve and (2) indicate how the different dung types dropped by a diverse assemblage of indigenous mammals may variously favor different species of dung beetles.
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