Dung beetles as secondary seed dispersers in a temperate grassland

Bram D'hondt, B Bossuyt, Maurice Hoffmann, D Bonte

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

    Abstract

    The two-phase dispersal event in which dung beetles move seeds after endozoochory is often assumed to be advantageous for plant regeneration. Because seeds are expected to end up in favourable and safe germination sites, it is considered as an example of directed dispersal. However, literature so far is restricted to tropical rain forest ecosystems, while data for temperate regions are lacking. In this study, the effect of dung beetles on seedling establishment of endozoochorically dispersed seeds is evaluated for a temperate grassland ecosystem. We performed a field experiment in which cages excluded dung beetles from horse and cattle dung samples with mixed-in grass seeds. Seed germination from these samples was significantly higher than that from samples which were accessible to dung beetles. This indicates that the effect of dung beetles on short-term seedling establishment was negative, which contrasts with the patterns found for large-seeded species used in tropical studies. This is most likely attributed to the lack of roller species and the larger depth at which tunneling Geotrupes species bury seeds.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
    Volume9
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)542-549
    Number of pages8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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