Although the preference of dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) for specific types and conditions of dung has been given substantial attention, little has been done to investigate the potential effects of exotic mammal introduction for game farms or rewilding projects. We used pitfall traps baited with various native and exotic herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore dung to evaluate dung beetle preference in the Great Plains of North America. Additionally, we analyzed of the nutrient quality of each dung type. In total, 9,089 dung beetles from 15 species were captured in 2 yr of sampling. We found significant differences (P < 0.05) in mean dung beetle capture among omnivore, herbivore, and carnivore dung, as well as differences in individual species preference for dung type. Omnivore dung was the most attractive with chimpanzee and human dung having the highest mean capture (291.1 ± 27.6 and 287.5 ± 28.5 respectively). Carrion also was highly attractive with a mean of 231.9 ± 20.6 beetles per trap (N = 8). Our results suggest definitive local preference of carrion in Phanaeus vindex Macleay and Onthophagus hecate (Panzer), while the congener, O. pennsylvanicus (Harold), was rarely captured in carrion and highly preferred omnivore dung. Preference for a specific bait type does not appear to be correlated with dung quality, mammalian diet, or origin of mammal. Results suggest niche segregation by dung type among dung beetle species.
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Vol. 41 • No. 2