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Multi-Site Research (Dung Beetles) Published in the Journal of Biogeography

Results of MSR experiment (impact of dung beetle assemblages on dung and seed dispersal) published.

 

ALTER-Net's third Multi-Site Research (MSR) experiment explored the impact of dung beetle assemblages on dung and seed dispersals.

In this multi-site experiment, ALTER-Net researchers investigated 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 was the wide bioclimatic range of sites; for this reason, sites throughout the entire Western Palaearctic zone were included. This enabled MSR researcheres to investigate whether predicted climate change will have an impact on these processes through the changes it induces in dung beetle assemblage composition. In 2014, the experiment was run at 12 study sites in eight European countries.

Findings from this novel experiment have previously been published in the journals Oecologia and European Journal of Sustainable Development. Now, the results of this ALTER-Net-funded project have been published in the Journal of Biogeography. The resulting article is entitled:

Functionally richer communities improve ecosystem functioning: Dung removal and secondary seed dispersal by dung beetles in the Western Palaearctic

msr dung beetle 2

  • Location: Seventeen grassland locations across the Western Palaearctic.
  • Research Aim: "In several ecosystems, the diversity of functional species traits has been shown to have a stronger effect on ecosystem functioning than taxonomic diversity alone. However, few studies have explored this idea at a large geographical scale. In a multisite experiment, we unravelled the relationship between ecosystem function and functional completeness of species assemblages using dung beetles as a model group, focusing on dung removal and secondary seed dispersal."
  • Main Conclusions: "The conservation of functionally complete dung beetle assemblages is crucial to maintain the ecosystem functions provided by dung beetles. Given the latitudinal variation in functional group diversity, it is reasonable to expect compositional changes due to climate change. These changes could lead to increased dung removal and a higher secondary seed dispersal rate in northern regions."

Researchers from seven ALTER-Net Institutes were involved in this project, including:

 

Want to learn more? Read the article online on the Journal of Biogeography website: Functionally richer communities improve ecosystem functioning: Dung removal and secondary seed dispersal by dung beetles in the Western Palaearctic.