Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Dung-visiting beetle diversity is mainly affected by land use, while community specialization is driven by climate

Dung beetles are important actors in the self-regulation of ecosystems by driving nutrient cycling, bioturbation, and pest suppression. Urbanization and the sprawl of agricultural areas, however, destroy natural habitats and may threaten dung beetle diversity. In addition, climate change may cause shifts in geographical distribution and community composition. We used a space-for-time approach to test the effects of land use and climate on α-diversity, local community specialization (H2′) on dung resources, and γ-diversity of dung-visiting beetles. For this, we used pitfall traps baited with four different dung types at 115 study sites, distributed over a spatial extent of 300 km × 300 km and 1000 m in elevation. Study sites were established in four local land-use types: forests, grasslands, arable sites, and settlements, embedded in near-natural, agricultural, or urban landscapes. Our results show that abundance and species density of dung-visiting beetles were negatively affected by agricultural land use at both spatial scales, whereas γ-diversity at the local scale was negatively affected by settlements and on a landscape scale equally by agricultural and urban land use. Increasing precipitation diminished dung-visiting beetle abundance, and higher temperatures reduced community specialization on dung types and γ-diversity. These results indicate that intensive land use and high temperatures may cause a loss in dung-visiting beetle diversity and alter community networks. A decrease in dung-visiting beetle diversity may disturb decomposition processes at both local and landscape scales and alter ecosystem functioning, which may lead to drastic ecological and economic damage.


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