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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2003

The influence of slope aspect and soil type on immigration and emergence of some northern temperate dung beetles

Vessby K, Wiktelius S


Soil type is a habitat factor that influences both adult habitat choice and reproductive success in tropical dung beetles. However, soil type habitat preferences of northern temperate dung beetles have not been studied, nor has their reproductive success in relation to habitat heterogeneity been investigated. The aim of this study was, firstly, to study the impact of slope aspect (southern vs. northern) and soil type (sand vs. clay) on immigration and subsequent emergence of dung beetle offspring. A second aim was to evaluate whether the soil type selection was reflected in reproductive success. The study was performed with cow dung during early summer in central Sweden. Beetle immigration was estimated using dung-baited pitfall traps and numbers of emerging beetles were assessed using specially designed emergence traps. Immigrating beetles collected represented 11 Aphodius species (Scarabaeidae), three Sphaeridium species (Hydrophilidae), and one Geotrupes species (Geotrupidae). Seven emerging species were caught, all from the genus Aphodius. immigration was influenced by soil type, i.e. more individuals of A. ater, were caught on clay while more individuals of A haemorrhoidalis were caught on sand. Slope aspect had no significant influence on immigration. Four species (A. ater, A. fimetarius, A. fossor and A. pusillus) dominated amongst the emerging beetles at both sites. Emergence was earlier on the south-facing slope for A. fimetarius and on both the south-facing slope and on sand for A. fossor. Emergence patterns were dependent on soil type. More individuals of A. ater emerged on clay while more individuals of A. fossor and A. pusillus emerged on sand. Slope aspect did not significantly influence the number of emerging beetles. We conclude that soil type influenced both adult habitat selection and reproduction, while slope aspect had less effect. Patterns of immigration and emigration corresponded for some species but not for others, hence selection of soil type may not directly correspond to reproductive success. Our results also indicate that Aphodius reproduction may be risky in wet clay soils because of mortality in over-wintering individuals

Published in

2003, volume: 47, number: 1, pages: 39-51

Authors' information

Wiktelius, Staffan
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Entomology
Vessby, K

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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