ECOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF DUNG BEETLES
In terrestrial ecosystems, insects contribute significantly to the ecological processes of nutrient cycling, bioturbation, pollination and seed dispersal (Nichols et al. 2008). Dung beetles of the subfamily Scarabaeinae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) fulfil these and other vitally important functions in many different ecosystems, especially in tropical savannas and forests (Hanski and Cambefort 1991e). Through their dung consumption and relocation activities, dung beetles are involved in the ecological functions of parasite suppression, secondary seed dispersal, nutrient cycling and bioturbation (Andresen 2001, 2003; Losey and Vaughan 2006; Nichols et al. 2008; Shepherd and Chapman 1998; Stokstad 2004; Waterhouse 1974). Furthermore, dung beetles may also function as pollinators (Ratcliffe 1970). One dung beetle species, Canthon virens (misidentified as C. dives sensu Borgmeier 1937), fulfills another ecological function by predating on leaf-cutter ants (Atta sp.) and thus potentially regulating the population dynamics of one of the principal herbivores of the Neotropics (Nichols et al. 2008).
EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF DUNG BEETLES; 2009; by CLARKE H. SCHOLTZ, ADRIAN L.V. DAVIS & UTE KRYGER page: 389-390
(PHOTO: Canthon aberrans by Bigal River Conservation Project on Flickr)