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Unexpectedly diverse forest dung beetle communities in degraded rainforest landscapes in Madagascar

Citation

Torppa, Kaisa; Wirta, Helena; Hanski, Ilkka (2020), Unexpectedly diverse forest dung beetle communities in degraded rainforest landscapes in Madagascar, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.v9s4mw6r9

Abstract

Tropical forests, which harbor high levels of biodiversity, are being lost at an alarming speed. Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot, has lost more than half of its original forest cover. Most of the remaining forests are small fragments of primary and secondary forest with differing degrees of human impact. These forests, as well as coffee and fruit plantations, may be important in supporting the forest dependent biodiversity in Madagascar but this has been little studied. In Madagascar dung beetles, which offer important ecosystem services, are largely restricted to forests. We examined the ability of fragmented and degraded forests to support dung beetle diversity, compared to the large areas of primary forest in eastern Madagascar. We found a general trend of a reduction of species with a loss of forest connectivity. In contrast, a higher level of forest disturbance was associated with higher species diversity. In several sites of low-quality forest as many or more species were found as in less disturbed and primary forests. The average size of dung beetles was smaller in the lower quality localities than in the primary forests. These findings suggest that many forest dung beetles in Madagascar are better adapted to forest disturbance than earlier expected, although they require some level of connectivity to surrounding forest.