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Forest habitat parameters influence abundance and diversity of cadaver-visiting dung beetles in Central Europe

Citation

von Hoermann, Christian et al. (2020), Forest habitat parameters influence abundance and diversity of cadaver-visiting dung beetles in Central Europe, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1ns1rn8ps

Abstract

Dung beetles (Scarabaeoidea) provide crucial ecosystem services and serve as model organisms for various behavioural, ecological and evolutionary studies. However, dung beetles have received little attention as consumers of large cadavers. In this study, we trapped copronecrophagous dung beetles on aboveground exposed piglet cadavers in 61 forest plots distributed over three geographically distinct regions in Germany, Central Europe. We examined the effects of land use intensity, forest stand, soil characteristics, vascular plant diversity and climatic conditions on dung beetle abundance, species richness and diversity.

In all three regions, dung beetles, represented mainly by the geotrupid species Anoplotrupes stercorosus and Trypocopris vernalis, were attracted to the cadavers. The highest beetle diversity and abundance was found on arid sandy soils that presumably form the most suitable habitat for the digging habits of dung beetles. Additionally, an increased proportion of forest understory vegetation and vascular plant diversity positively affected the species richness and diversity of the scarabaeoids. Thus, even in warm dry monocultured forest stands exploited for timber, we found thriving dung beetle populations when a diverse understory was present. Therefore, forestry practices that preserve the understory can sustain stable dung beetle populations and ensure their important contribution to nutrient cycles.

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: AY 12/9-1,STE 1874/4-1