The effects of land use change on native dung beetle diversity and function in Australia’s Wet Tropics

Kenyon, Tania and Mayfield, Margie and Monteith, Geoff and Menendez Martinez, Maria Rosa (2016) The effects of land use change on native dung beetle diversity and function in Australia’s Wet Tropics. Austral Ecology, 41 (7). pp. 797-808. ISSN 1442-9985

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The impacts of land use change on biodiversity and ecosystem functions are variable, particularly in fragmented tropical rainforest systems with high diversity. Dung beetles (Scarabaeinae) are an ideal group to investigate the relationship between land use change, diversity and ecosystem function as they are easily surveyed, sensitive to habitat modification and perform many ecosystem functions. Although this relationship has been investigated for dung beetles in some tropical regions, there has been no study assessing how native dung beetles in Australia's tropical rainforests respond to deforestation, and what the corresponding consequences are for dung removal (a key ecosystem function fulfilled by dung beetles). In this study we investigated the relationship between dung beetle community attributes (determined through trapping) and function (using dung removal experiments that allowed different dung beetle functional groups to access the dung) in rainforest and cleared pasture in a tropical landscape in Australia's Wet Tropics. Species richness, abundance and biomass were higher in rainforest compared to adjacent pasture, and species composition between these land use types differed significantly. However, average body size and evenness in body size were higher in pasture than in rainforest. Dung removal was higher in rainforest than in pasture when both functional groups or tunnelers only could access the dung. Increased dung removal in the rainforest was explained by higher biodiversity and dominance of a small number of species with distinct body sizes, as dung removal was best predicted by the evenness in body size of the community. Our findings suggest that functional traits (including body size and dung relocation behaviour) present in a dung beetle community are key drivers of dung removal. Overall, our results show that deforestation has reduced native dung beetle diversity in Australian tropical landscapes, which negatively impacts on the capacity for dung removal by dung beetles in this region.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Austral Ecology
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Kenyon, T. M., Mayfield, M. M., Monteith, G. B., and Menéndez, R. (2016) The effects of land use change on native dung beetle diversity and function in Australia's Wet Tropics. Austral Ecology, 41: 797–808. doi: 10.1111/aec.12366. which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? ecologyecology, evolution, behavior and systematics ??
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Deposited On:
14 Jun 2016 13:54
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 16:08