Dung Beetles of the Western Palaearctic
The dataset aggregates the results from a pan-European multi-site experiment, financially supported by the ALTER-Net consortium, Europe’s Ecosystem Research Network. In this multi-site experiment, the impact of dung beetle assemblages on dung decomposition and secondary seed dispersal was studied.
Working at a multi-site level allowed us to study the link between ecosystem functions of dung removal and secondary seed dispersal, and dung beetle diversity and abundance in a broad range of bioclimatic zones. Therefore, grazed grasslands throughout the Western Palaearctic zone were included in the experiment. By experimentally manipulating the access of certain dung beetle functional groups to the experimental units, we were able to estimate the value of each functional group for ecosystem functioning and assess the impact of predicted climate change on these processes through the changes it induces in dung beetle assemblage composition.
During the experiments, the removal of different types of dung and seeds were measured and the dung beetle assemblage composition was determined using different types of dung as bait. The experiments took place between 2013 and 2016, at 17 study sites in 10 countries within the Western Palaearctic realm. The dung beetle occurrence data set contains all dung beetle specimens sampled during the 4-week experimental periods at each sampling site.
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The data in this sampling event resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 1,050 records.
1 extension data tables also exist. An extension record supplies extra information about a core record. The number of records in each extension data table is illustrated below.
- Event (core)
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:
Milotic T, Baltzinger C, Eichberg C, Eycott A, Heurich M, Müller J, Noriega J, Menendez R, Stadler J, Ádám R, Bargmann T, Bilger I, Buse J, Calatayud J, Ciubuc C, Boros G, Jay-Robert P, Kruus M, Merivee E, Miessen G, Must A, Ardali E, Preda E, Rahimi I, Rohwedder D, Slade E, Somay L, Tahmasebi P, Ziani S, Brosens D, Desmet P, Hoffmann M (2017): Dung Beetles of the Western Palaearctic. v1.3. Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). Dataset/Samplingevent. https://doi.org/10.15468/zbazdy
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The publisher and rights holder of this work is Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). To the extent possible under law, the publisher has waived all rights to these data and has dedicated them to the Public Domain (CC0 1.0). Users may copy, modify, distribute and use the work, including for commercial purposes, without restriction.
Samplingevent; dung beetles; Western Palaearctic; ecology; multi-site experiment
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Who can answer questions about the resource:
The multi-site experiment was carried out on 17 study sites covering 10 countries in the Western Palaearctic realm. All study areas consisted of natural grasslands which had been grazed by domestic and/or wild herbivores for at least a couple of years prior to the experiment.
|Bounding Coordinates||South West [25, -15], North East [70, 65]|
We defined 'dung beetles' as species of the superfamily Scarabaeoidea that generally feed on dung in both the larval and adult phase. Some species of other beetle families such as Hydrophilidae and Staphylinidae are commonly found in dung as well and could be considered as dung beetles as well (Hanski, Cambefort 1991). Nevertheless, they are not coprophagous during their entire life cycle (Finn et al. 1999) and they do not contribute to lateral or vertical dung transport which was one of the major research questions in our study. Therefore, dung beetles were strictly defined as the coprophagous species in the Geotrupidae and Scarabaeidae families.
|Start Date / End Date||2013-09-01 / 2016-07-07|
In this multi-site experiment we investigate whether the functional composition of dung beetle assemblages has an impact on dung decomposition and secondary seed dispersal processes. The added value of working at the multi-site level is the wide bioclimatic range of sites; for this reason, sites throughout the entire Western Palaearctic zone are included. This allows us to investigate whether predicted climate change could have an impact on these processes through the changes it induces in dung beetle assemblage composition. From 2013 untill 2016, the experiment was run at 17 study sites covering 10 countries in the Western Palaearctic realm.
|Title||MSE-III The impact of dung beetle assemblages on dung and seed dispersal|
|Funding||The project was financially supported by the ALTER-Net consortium, Europe’s Ecosystem Research Network within their multi-site research programme (MSE III call).|
|Study Area Description||The multi-site experiment was carried out on 17 study sites covering 10 countries in the Western Palaearctic realm. Each study site was assigned to a biogeographic region according to Udvardy (1975). The experiment was replicated on a spatial scale by selecting study sites within the same biogeographic region. All study areas consisted of natural grasslands which had been grazed by domestic and/or wild herbivores for at least a couple of years prior to the experiment.|
|Design Description||Dung beetles can be classified into functional groups according to their dung manipulation and nesting methods. 'Dwellers' feed and breed in superficial dung layers and do not move dung. In contrast, 'tunnelers' transport dung in a vertical direction by digging vertical shafts underneath dung pats, while 'rollers' make dung balls, roll them in a horizontal movement before burying them shallowly. Another classification was made according to the size of the beetles: beetles with a body width larger than 1 cm were classified as 'large', while all smaller species were considered as 'small'. As all dweller species were classified as small, we used five groups in the experiments: dwellers, small tunnelers, large tunnelers, small rollers and large rollers. In this multi-site project we aimed to assess dung removal and secondary seed dispersal by each of these functional groups and size classes. Therefore, different experimental units were build that prevented the dung removing action of different combinations of functional groups and size classes. Experimental units consisted of different combinations of ground screens preventing the digging of tunnelers and/or vertical wall preventing dung removal by rollers. By using either fine mesh (mesh size: 1 mm * 1 mm) or large mesh (mesh size 1 cm * 1 cm) the activity of respectively all size classes and large beetles was prevented. During a 4-week period, dung removal and secondary seed removal by dung beetles was assessed in these experimental units. According to the herbivore species grazing in close vicinity of the study areas different dung types were used (cattle, horse, sheep, goat or red deer). Simultaneously, dung beetle assemblages were sampled by using pitfalls baited with the same dung types used in the experiments. Sampling units were emptied weekly. In order to relate dung beetle abundance and richness with dung quality, the original dung baits were re-used after emptying the pitfalls.|
The personnel involved in the project:
During the experiments, the dung beetle community was sampled in each study area. In 2013 and 2014, two main types of pitfall traps were used in order to achieve a complete view of dung beetle diversity and abundance. The first trap type consisted of one large container (1 l) with a 11 cm wide opening at the top, and covered with hexagonal chicken wire (with mesh diameter of 25 mm) and dung as bait (as described in Larsen, Forsyth (2005)). In sampling campaigns in 2013 and 2014, approximately 100 g of dung packed in a nylon bag was put on top of the chicken wire (sampling protocol "T1" in the dataset), while in 2015 the traps were baited with a larger amount of unwrapped dung (ca. 500 g) put directly on the chicken wire (sampling protocol "T1L"). The second trap type consisted of five smaller containers (0.2 l) with a 7 cm wide opening at the top, and surrounding a central dung pile of approximately 300 g (as in D'hondt et al. (2008), sampling protocol "T5"). In all trap types containers were dug into the soil with the upper rim levelled with the soil surface. Containers were filled with a saturated salt-water solution (ca. 365 g l-1 NaCl with some drops of unscented detergent). All pitfall traps were set up randomly between the experimental units with six replicates per dung type used in the dung removal experiment. Traps were put in operation one week after the start of the dung removal and seed dispersal experiments in order to avoid interference with the initial beetle colonization phase of the experiment. Traps were emptied weekly and sampling stopped after one month, equalling three sampling occasions per experimental period.
|Study Extent||The multi-site experiment was carried out on 17 study sites covering 10 countries (Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Norway, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom). Each study site was assigned to a biogeographic region according to Udvardy (1975). When possible, the experiment was replicated on a spatial scale by selecting study sites within the same biogeographic region, and on a temporal scale by replicating the experiment in different seasons and/or years. All study areas consisted of natural grasslands which had been grazed by domestic and/or wild herbivores for at least a couple of years prior to the experiment.|
Method step description:
- Dung beetle specimens were extracted from the samples and identified at species level.
- For each species, the number of individuals was counted per sampling unit (pitfall) with indication of sampling date, used dung bait and geographic location.
- D'hondt, B., Bossuyt, B., Hoffmann, M. & Bonte, D. (2008) Dung beetles as secondary seed dispersers in a temperate grassland. Basic and Applied Ecology, 9, 542-549. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2007.11.002 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2007.11.002
- Finn, J.A., Gittings, T. & Giller, P.S. (1999) Spatial and temporal variation in species composition of dung beetle assemblages in southern Ireland. Ecological Entomology, 24, 24-36. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2311.1999.00169.x https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2311.1999.00169.x
- Hanski, I. & Cambefort, Y. (1991) Dung beetle ecology. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
- Larsen, T.H. & Forsyth, A. (2005) Trap spacing and transect design for dung beetle biodiversity studies. Biotropica, 37, 322-325. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7429.2005.00042.x https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7429.2005.00042.x
- Udvardy, M.D.F. (1975) A classification of the biogeographical provinces of the world. IUCN Occasional paper 18, World Conservation Union. Morges, Switzerland.