At two temperate pasturelands in northern Mexico, we explored possible competition for food and space under pats during the simultaneous nesting periods of the univoltine species Dichotomius colonicus (Say), Phanaeus quadridens (Say), and Copris sierrensis Matthews. To simulate unlimited resources, 50 5-kg cow dung pats were placed at regular distance intervals in each pastureland. After building trenches around the pats, the number and depth of each nest, as well as larval development status, were documented once for a period of 1–8 mo. Analyses of variance and association tests were used to make a between-site comparison of dung pat occupation, nests occupied per species, nests per dung pat, and nest depth below each pat. The proportion of pats occupied by each species differed significantly between sites. C. sierrensis colonizing most pats at one site and D. colonicus at the other. There were no differences between sites in the frequency of pats occupied by more than one species. The association test and Ochiai index showed that each species colonized dung pats independently. The results suggest that pat occupation depended on their location by beetles and the relative abundance of each species. The species tended to dig nests at different depths, possibly reducing interspecific competition for space. It can therefore be concluded that, when food resources seem to be unlimited, they are shared following a “lottery dynamic” model if there is spatial differentiation among species.
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