Eur. J. Entomol. 106 (1): 85-94, 2009 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2009.013

Seasonal occurrence and local coexistence within scarabaeid dung beetle guilds (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) in Tunisian pasture

Faïek ERROUISSI, Imen LABIDI, Saïd NOUIRA
UR: Biodiversité et Biologie des Populations, Institut Supérieur des Sciences Biologiques Appliquées de Tunis, 9 av. Zohaïr Es sefi,

Dung beetle assemblages were monitored using baited pitfall traps from January to December 2006 in Northern Tunisia. 4,965 beetles belonging to 37 species were trapped. Aphodius lineolatus and Onthophagus taurus dominated the assemblages. Results showed a significant seasonal variation in assemblage composition, and diversity. There were four periods of activity during the course of the year. Temporal turnover was highest in October and in February. Temporal distribution of species shows seasonal segregation and opposite patterns in the two dominant guilds (Aphodiinae-dwellers and Scarabaeidae-tunnelers). Aphodiidae-dwellers were active from autumn to spring, although they were affected by summer drought. The Aphodius-dweller showed high temporal plasticity and phenological segregation. In contrast, Scarabaeidae-tunnelers were active all year round but mainly in the spring-summer period and less so in winter. Species in this guild showed a high degree of phenological overlap and a short ecological length. Our results suggest that coexistence in dung beetle guilds is facilitated by their phenological patterns, which reflect distinct ecological requirements and biogeographical origin of species. Geotrupidae-tunnelers and Scarabaeidae-rollers were rare and occurred mainly in the summer-autumn period, when individuals of the two other guilds were rare.

Keywords: Dung beetles, Northern Tunisia, guilds, phenology, coexistence

Received: June 4, 2008; Accepted: October 6, 2008; Published: March 10, 2009

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