Temporal segregation between dung-inhabiting beetle and fly species

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The coexistence of ecologically similar species (i.e. species utilizing the same resource) is a major topic in ecology. Communities are assembled either through the biotic interactions of ecologically similar species, e.g. competition, or by the abiotic separation of species along gradients of environmental conditions. Here, we investigated the temporal segregation, succession and seasonality of dung-inhabiting Coleoptera and Diptera that utilize an identical resource in exactly the same way. The data were collected from two temperate pastures, one in the United Kingdom and the second in the Czech Republic. There was no evident temporal separation between ecologically similar coleopterous or dipterous taxa during succession. In contrast, these two orders were almost perfectly separated seasonally in both combined and site-specific datasets. Flies were most abundant in the summer, and beetles were more abundant in the spring and autumn. Ecologically similar beetles and flies also displayed seasonal separation in both combined and site-specific data. Analyses within site-specific data sets revealed such a separation at both the order and species level. Season is therefore the main temporal axis separating ecologically similar species of dung-inhabiting insects in temperate habitats, while succession aggregates species that may have similar environmental tolerances (to e.g. dung moisture). This separation between ecologically similar taxa of beetles and flies may be attributable to either competition-based niche separation or to temperature tolerance-based habitat filtering, since flies have peak activity in warmer months while beetles have peak activity in cooler months.




Sladecek, F. X. J., Segar, S. T., Lee, C., Wall, R., & Konvicka, M. (2017). Temporal segregation between dung-inhabiting beetle and fly species. PLoS ONE, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170426

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