Dung beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) assemblages across a natural forest-cerrado ecotone in Minas Gerais, Brazil

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2005
Authors:R. Duraes, Martins, W. P., Vaz-de-Mello, F. Z.
Journal:Neotropical Entomology
Date Published:Sep/Oct
Keywords:Atlantic Forest, biodiversity, brazil, edge effect, spatial distribution

Variations in assemblage attributes across ecotones provides clear examples on how organisms perceive and respond to environmental changes, even at small scales. Dung beetles (Scarabaeidae) have been used as bioindicators of habitat quality due to their sensitivity to environmental changes. Dung beetles were sampled across a natural forest-cerrado ecotone in Brazil, and associated changes in assemblage structure were examined. Edge effects, here defined as consistent changes in assemblage parameters in relation to the distance to the forest-cerrado border, were also examined. Density of individuals and species were higher in the forest than in the cerrado, but overall richness was similar between habitats after controlling for sample sizes. Species composition differed greatly between habitats, and shared species were consistently more abundant in one or another habitat. Edge effects were not detected on richness nor species composition, and only weak effects were observed on abundance. It is concluded that the effect of the habitat (forest vs. cerrado) has a much stronger effect on the assemblage structure than the presence of the edge: dung beetles responded strongly to change in habitats, but weakly to the proximity of the edge between these habitats.

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