Global dung beetle response to tropical forest modification and fragmentation: A quantitative literature review and meta-analysis

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:E. Nichols, Larsen, T., Spector, S., Davis, A. L., Escobar, F., Favila, M., Vulinec, K.
Journal:Biological Conservation
Keywords:Agroforestry, community ecology, deforestation, Invertebrate, Land-use change, Scarabaeinae

Although insects are crucial for maintaining ecosystem function, our understanding of their overall response to human activity remains limited. This is no less true of dung-burying beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae), which provide a suite of critical ecosystem functions and services, yet but face multiple conservation threats, particularly from landscape conversion. Here we use a review and meta-analysis to synthesize the current knowledge concerning response to tropical forest modification and fragmentation of dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). For every modified habitat type and individual forest fragment across 33 studies, we calculated six dung beetle community parameters, standardized relative to intact tropical forest. We organized modified habitats along an approximate disturbance gradient ranging from selectively logged, late and early secondary forest, through agroforestry, tree plantations, to annual crops, cattle pastures and clear-cuts. Secondary forests, selectively logged forest and agroforests supported rich communities with many intact forest species, while cattle pastures and clear-cuts contained fewer species overall with few forest-dwelling species. Abundance generally declined with increasing modification, but was quite variable. Communities in open habitats were often characterized by hyper-abundance of a small number of small-bodied species, leading to low evenness. Across fragmentation studies, dung beetle species richness, abundance and evenness declined in smaller forest fragments. Richness and abundance sometimes declined in more isolated fragments, although this response appeared to depend on matrix quality. Across both habitat modification and fragmentation studies, geographic location and landscape context appeared to modify dung beetle response by influencing the available pool of colonists. We discuss potential underlying mechanisms and conclude with recommendations for management and conservation and for future research.

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