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Dung burial by roller dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae): An individual and specific-level study

  • R. L. Carvalho (a1), F. Frazão (a2), R.S. Ferreira–Châline (a3), J. Louzada (a4), L. Cordeiro (a4) and F. França (a5) (a6)...

Abstract

Dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae) mediate many ecological functions that are important to maintain the ecosystem functioning of terrestrial environments. Although a large amount of literature explores the dung beetle-mediated ecological processes, little is known about the individual contribution from distinct species. Here, we aimed to examine the intra and interspecific variations in dung burial rates performed by two roller dung beetle species (Canthon smaragdulus Fabricius, 1781 and Canthon sulcatus Castelnau, 1840). Furthermore, we evaluated the relationship between dung beetle biomass and dung burial rates. We set up a laboratorial experiment with three treatments (two males, two females, and a couple) and 10 replicates per treatment for each dung beetle species, and dung burial rates were measured after exposing 100 g of mixed pig and human excrement for 48 hours. Our results demonstrate that dung burial rates of males, females, and couples within each species do not differ. However, C. smaragdulus individuals performed a larger dung burial than C. sulcatus individuals did. In addition, we found no effect of individual biomass on the amount of dung burial on intra and interspecific levels. These findings highlight the need for further research considering that distinct species, even from the same genus, may perform different rates of ecological processes, as well as about the importance for considering the beetle biomass when measuring their ecological functions. We call for studies to fill in the knowledge gap about the individual species’ contribution to the maintenance of different dung beetle-mediated ecological processes.

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