The effect of dung beetle size on soil nutrient mobilization in an afrotropical forest

Stanbrook, R., Harris, E., Jones, M. and Wheater, C. P. (2021) The effect of dung beetle size on soil nutrient mobilization in an afrotropical forest. Insects, 12 (2).

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Despite recognition of its importance, little is known about functional aspects of soil macrofauna. Here, we investigated the effect of dung beetle body size on macronutrient movement (N, P, K, and C) from elephant dung into soil over 112 days in an Afrotropical forest. We report a large overall effect where more macronutrients are moved into soil over time when beetles are present compared to a control treatment. We also report a large effect of beetle body size on the amount of macronutrient movement, with larger dung beetles moving more nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and carbon from baseline measurements when compared to smaller sized dung beetles. The presence of smaller sized dung beetles showed a significant positive effect on potassium and phosphorus transfer only. We provide the first experimental evidence that the body size of African dungs directly influences the type of macronutrients recycled and discuss the importance of dung beetle body size for maintaining soil fertility.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: dung beetles, functional traits, nutrient transfer, soil fertility
Divisions: Agriculture and Environment (from 1.08.20)
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Giles
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2021 09:00
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 11:30

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