Seasonal dung beetle activity and dung dispersal in selected South African habitats: implications for pasture improvement in Australia
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Abstract:

AbstractSpatio-temporal variation in dung beetle distribution and cattle dung dispersal was quantified across a spectrum of summer rainfall habitat types in South Africa, i.e. grassland, open woodland and thickets on both sand and clay. This study facilitates the selection of further Afrotropical dung beetle species to optimize dung and fly control in similar Australian habitats. Substantial dung beetle activity and dung removal were recorded during the warm rainy season. However, there was considerable spatial variance for which soil type was primarily responsible. Differences between harder (clay) and softer soil types (sand) include, lower biomass of dung-burying and lower abundance of predatory dung beetles, lower rates and amounts of dung removal, and greater shredding of pad remnants on clay. Positive correlations between dung beetle biomass and dung removal were most frequent for large, fast-burying tunnellers on sand and for ball rollers on clay. The implications of spatio-temporal differences in dung beetle functional group structure and dung dispersal are discussed with regards to the necessity of further introductions of both dung-burying and predatory dung beetles from African into Australia.

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