Changes in food resources and conservation of scarab beetles: from sheep to dog dung in a green urban area of Rome (Coleoptera, Scarabaeoidea)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2005
Authors:G. M. Carpaneto, Mazziotta, A., Piattella, E.
Journal:Biological Conservation
Date Published:Jun
Accession Number:ISI:000227958600012
Keywords:20th-century, abundance, assemblage, biodiversity conservatiom, Carabidae, colonization, communities, community ecology, competition, diversity, dung beetle assemblages, food, habitats mammals, netherlands, resources, urban ecology

The aim of the research was to show how a change in land use influences the structure of a dung beetle assemblage and affect its conservation. In the Pineto Urban Regional Park (Rome), dog dung is the sole food resource currently available for scarab dung beetles, after the recent removal of wild and domestic herbivores. A one-year sampling was conducted to study the scarab assemblage in dog scats (1999) and to compare it with the previous assemblage associated with sheep droppings (1986). Richness, evenness and similarity parameters were compared between the two allochronic assemblages. From sheep to dog dung, an impoverishment of the total richness was observed (from 19 to 9 species) together with an increase of individuals (by 7 times). Dog dung harboured 20% of the current scarab dung beetle fauna of Rome, probably as a consequence of the dog mixed diet, rich in cellulose. Both the communities showed a high percentage of tunnellers, probably because of the food shortage and, for dog scats, of the high dehydration rate. A comparison with other Roman scarab communities enhanced that: (1) the change in food resource determined a higher difference in species composition respect to other parameters (size and habitat diversity); (2) dog dung provided a temporary refuge for species that otherwise may encounter local extinction in urban environments. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith