Complementarity of dung beetle species with different functional behaviours influence dung–soil carbon cycling

Menendez Martinez, Maria Rosa and Webb, Paul and Orwin, Kate Helen (2016) Complementarity of dung beetle species with different functional behaviours influence dung–soil carbon cycling. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 92. pp. 142-148. ISSN 0038-0717

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Decomposition of large ungulate herbivore dung and its subsequent incorporation into the soil play key roles in carbon and nutrient cycling and are important for grassland productivity. Dung beetles contribute to the initial breakdown and transport of organic matter from the dung into the soil but how they interact with the microbial community to modify decomposition processes remains poorly understood. Using a mesocosm experiment, we investigated the individual and interactive effect of two dung beetle species with contrasting functional behaviour (dweller species: Agrilinus ater (De Geer 1774) vs. tunneler species: Typhaeus typhoeus (Linneaus 1758)) on dung C cycling (CO2 fluxes and C transfer through the soil profile) and resultant effects on microbial activity and biomass in the soil. Both dung beetle species contributed significantly to dung removal, reducing the C lost through microbial respiration from the whole mesocosm. However, C concentrations measured in leachates from the mesocosm were only significantly higher in the presence of the tunneler species, indicating that tunnelling activity was required to increase C transfer down the soil profile. The combined effect of the two dung beetle species resulted in the highest soil microbial respiration from the soil and in particular in the 2–10 cm depth increment, suggesting positive complementarity effects between species with different functional behaviour. We conclude that the return of C in the form of dung in grasslands, coupled with the activity of a functionally diverse dung beetle assemblage, could result in short term fluctuations in soil microbial activity with important consequences for soil C cycling.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Soil Biology and Biochemistry. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 92, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2015.10.004
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? co2 fluxescomplementaritydung removalfunctional diversitymicrobial biomasssoil carbonsoil sciencemicrobiology ??
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Deposited On:
08 Mar 2016 09:56
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 00:18