Interspecific and intraspecific variation in diet preference in five Atlantic forest dung beetle species
Raine EH., Mikich SB., Lewis OT., Slade EM.
© 2018 The Authors. Ecological Entomology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Entomological Society 1. Dung beetles are commonly assumed to be generalist feeders, but there has been limited work in identifying whether there is interspecific variation in feeding preference. Equally, there has been no work exploring whether generalist feeding behaviour in a species is a result of within-species specialisation. 2. This study identified the individual and species-level feeding preferences of five dung beetle species towards human, jaguar and pig dung using a choice experiment. 3. It was found that species varied in their preference for the dung types, but there was no evidence that within a species, individual beetles varied in their dung choice. These findings were similar to results from field experiments that are more typically used to assess feeding preferences in dung beetles. 4. The results suggest that individual specialism in feeding may not be common in dung beetles. However, there is variation in feeding preferences among species, which is often overlooked and can have implications for the ecosystem functions they provide. It is suggested that choice arenas can be used to assess feeding preferences in dung beetle species that are not abundant enough to reliably estimate dietary choice from field studies.