Invasion and retreat: shifting assemblages of dung beetles amidst changing agricultural landscapes in central Peru uri icon

abstract

  • This study examines the effects of deforestation, and the habitat value of coffee and regenerated forest for tropical dung beetles, a functionally significant insect group. Pitfall trapping was conducted at 22 sites in a montane region of central Peru during April and November/December of 2002. Sites included primary and secondary forest, shade-coffee, regenerated forest and open farms (mainly with banana, yuca, and corn). Ordination techniques indicated that beetle assemblages in forests, regenerated forest and coffee were relatively similar. However, assemblage compositions in forested areas differed even at similar altitudes under the influence of biogeographical factors, and the assemblages at disturbed sites (farms/coffee) were influenced by beetle dispersal from adjacent forests. During dry months, when beetle activity is low, communities at all habitat types tended to converge because fewer unique species were recorded in forests at that time and habitat/season generalists were dominant. Preliminary results also indicate that beetles in shady crops such as bananas responded to plant growth: as the banana canopy closed-in, producing more shade, open-habitat specialists retreated and forest/shade specialists invaded the sites. Chronosequence data at two of the sites demonstrate the rapid and dramatic changes in species richness and assemblage composition caused by deforestation. As forests become increasingly fragmented, and open farms continue to expand, dung beetles will become more restricted to the remaining fragments and reserves. In the mosaic landscape studied here, shade crops, like coffee, act as habitat and corridors for many dung beetle species. Small farm size and the consequent magnitude of edge effects, likely contributed to beetle movement between habitat types and determined the apparent generalist nature of many of the dung beetle species in this study.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009
  • 2009