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Abstract

Habitat loss and fragmentation have turned into the most important threats to biodiversity and ecosystem function worldwide. Here we investigate the effects of habitat fragmentation and drastic changes in tree communities on dung beetle richness and community structure. This study was carried out in a severely fragmented 670-km2forest landscape of the Atlantic Forest of north-eastern Brazil. Sampling was carried out in 19 forest fragments between September 2007 and March 2008 with the use of pitfall traps and flight interception traps. A total of 5893 individuals and 30 species of dung beetle were collected. Fragment area and isolation were the most significant explanatory variables for predictable and conspicuous changes in dung beetle species richness. Smaller and isolated fragments presented lower number of species, but fragments with lower tree species richness and lower proportion of shade-tolerant species were also considerably impoverished in terms of dung beetle species richness. The body mass of dung beetles were explained by fragment area and the percentage of emergent trees with smaller and less stratified fragments being dominated by small-bodied dung beetles. An ordination analysis segregated dung beetle communities between small fragments (<100ha) and the control area. Seventy-seven percent of the species were recorded in the control area and 22% of all species were unique to this habitat. Our findings indicate that large fragments in the Atlantic Forest appear to consist in a sort of irreplaceable habitats for particular groups of dung beetle species, as well as for the integrity of their communities. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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Filgueiras, B. K. C., Iannuzzi, L., & Leal, I. R. (2011). Habitat fragmentation alters the structure of dung beetle communities in the Atlantic Forest. Biological Conservation, 144(1), 362–369. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2010.09.013

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