Abstract Title

The janitors of the savanna: dung beetle diversity in three habitats in South Africa

Abstract

We studied dung beetles in the South African savanna to determine whether dung beetles show habitat preference or specialization within this biome. Traps were set up to capture beetles in three habitats (grassland, woodland, and ecotone between grassland and woodland). The numbers of beetles of each species and species richness were determined and compared based on the specimens found in the traps. We hypothesized that a grassland habitat will show the highest species diversity and the highest number of individuals due to the dung produced by the higher diversity of grazing ungulates (eat grass only) than browsing ungulates (eat woody plants only) in South Africa. The study was conducted in the Wits Rural Facility outside Kruger National Park, in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. Although we found no significant differences among the numbers of individuals per habitat (p = 0.582) or species richness per habitat (p = 0.117), some beetles were found to have distinct habitat preferences and four species were found to be endemic to a single habitat. Our results were partially consistent with our hypothesis that grassland would have the most species and individuals since the grassland had the most individual but not the most species. This indicates that habitat specialization is not a significant cause of South African dung beetle diversity.

Modified Abstract

We studied dung beetle diversity in three savanna habitats (grassland, woodland, and ecotone) at a nature preserve in South Africa. We hypothesized that grasslands will show higher species diversity and a higher number of individuals due to the high diversity of grazing ungulates in South Africa. Traps captured beetles which were assigned to a genus and, where possible, a species. The numbers of each species and species richness were compared among three habitats in the preserve. Grassland was found to have the most individual beetles. Ecotone and grassland had the same average number of species per trap. Our results were partially consistent with our hypothesis that grassland would have the most species and individuals since grassland had the most individuals but not the most species.

Research Category

Biology/Ecology

Primary Author's Major

Zoology

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. David

Ward

Start Date

April 2019

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Apr 9th, 1:00 PM

The janitors of the savanna: dung beetle diversity in three habitats in South Africa

We studied dung beetles in the South African savanna to determine whether dung beetles show habitat preference or specialization within this biome. Traps were set up to capture beetles in three habitats (grassland, woodland, and ecotone between grassland and woodland). The numbers of beetles of each species and species richness were determined and compared based on the specimens found in the traps. We hypothesized that a grassland habitat will show the highest species diversity and the highest number of individuals due to the dung produced by the higher diversity of grazing ungulates (eat grass only) than browsing ungulates (eat woody plants only) in South Africa. The study was conducted in the Wits Rural Facility outside Kruger National Park, in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. Although we found no significant differences among the numbers of individuals per habitat (p = 0.582) or species richness per habitat (p = 0.117), some beetles were found to have distinct habitat preferences and four species were found to be endemic to a single habitat. Our results were partially consistent with our hypothesis that grassland would have the most species and individuals since the grassland had the most individual but not the most species. This indicates that habitat specialization is not a significant cause of South African dung beetle diversity.