Is there really a strong "follow-up" evolutionary background in herbivore dung utilisation by Scarabaeinae?

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2001
Authors:C. Paetel
Journal:Mitt. Mus. Nat.kd. Berl., Zool. Reihe
Keywords:dung types, food preference, herbivores, ruminants, Scarabaeoidea, sisyphini, “follow up” evolution

According to their feeding habits and digestive system, herbivores produce dung of different quality and quantity. The availa- bility of these different dung types as feeding- and breeding sources for the dung beetles (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) might be one of the key factors for their species richness. To enlighten the relationship between herbivorous dung type and its consuming dung beetles, an experiment was undertaken in the Kruger National Park (RSA). Five herbivore species with different feeding habits and different digestion systems and thus different dung types (grazers, intermediate feeding types. browsers; non-ruminants vs. ruminants) were selected and their dung analysed. Water content, coarse organic matter (particles >20 pm) and fine organic matter, the “beetle food’ fraction (particles <20 pm) were investigated. A trapping experiment with dung baited pitfall traps revealed that elephant dung was the most preferred dung type (53% of all individuals caught). followed by buffalo dung (29%) and zebra dung (1 1 YO). The two pelleted dung types from impala and giraffe with 3% each were less frequented. A first evaluation of the data demonstrates that the percentage of so-called “modern” dung beetle species is relatively high for all five dung types (74% -84%). The percentage of “intermediate” and “old” species on the evolutionarily older coarse dung types does not appear to be strikingly higher. Within the “modern” tribes of Scarabaeinae, the monophyletic Sisyphini show a clear trend towards the use of ruminant dung.

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