Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Thomas P. Rooney, Ph.D. (Advisor); Megan Rúa, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Katie Hossler, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dung beetles provide key ecological functions by degrading and recycling dung. I used experimentally-assembled communities to examine the role of species richness, community biomass, species diversity, species identity, and community composition in dung removal, using Ateuchus chrysopyge, Copris nubilosis, Onothophagus cyanellus, and Dichotomius satanas. I hypothesized: (1) that as species richness, biomass, and diversity increases within a community, dung removal increases; and (2) species are not functionally equivalent, so community composition should influence dung removal rates. As species richness, biomass, and diversity of experimentally-assembled communities increased, the proportion of dung removed also increased. Also, the four species in this study were not functionally equivalent at dung removal. Dichotomius satanas removed the most dung, even when beetle biomass was standardized. Assemblages of A. chrysopyge, D. satanas, and C. nubilosis, and of O. cyanellus, D. satanas and C. nubilosis removed the most dung. Additionally, communities containing at least one D. satanas beetle removed significantly more dung than communities without any D. satanas beetles.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Biological Sciences

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

Biology Commons