Succession of dung-inhabiting beetles and flies reflects the succession of dung-emitted volatile compounds

Sladecek, F.X.J., Dötterl, S., Schäffler, I., Segar, S.T. and Konvicka, M. (2021) Succession of dung-inhabiting beetles and flies reflects the succession of dung-emitted volatile compounds. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 47. pp. 433-443.

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Chemical cues, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are often essential for insects to locate food. Relative to the volume of studies on the role of VOCs in insect-plant relationships, the role of VOCs emitted by dung and carrion in mediating the behavior of insect decomposers is understudied. Such relationships may provide a mechanistic understanding of the temporal axis of community assembly processes in decomposing insect communities. We focused on the temporal succession of volatiles released by cow dung pats and the potential influence on dung-inhabiting insects. Using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry we identified and quantified VOCs released from dung 1-h, and 1, 2 3, 5, and 7 d-old. We then related changes in VOCs to successional patterns of dung-inhabiting beetles and flies. We detected 54 VOCs which could be assigned to two successional groups, with chemical turnover in dung changing around day 2. The early successional group consisted primarily of aliphatic alcohols and phenols, and the late one of aliphatic esters, nitrogen- and sulfur-bearing compounds. Flies were predominately associated with the early successional group, mainly with 1-butanol. Beetles were associated predominately with the late-successional group, mainly with dimethyl trisulfide. This association between insect and chemical successional patterns supports the idea that habitat filtering drives the community assembly of dung-inhabiting insects on an aging resource. Moreover, the affinity of both insect groups to specific VOC groups provides a mechanistic explanation for the predictability of successional patterns found in dung-inhabiting insect communities.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Diptera, Dung beetles, Environmental filtering, Ephemeral habitats, Temporal segregations
Divisions: Agriculture and Environment (from 1.08.20)
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Harper
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2021 13:15
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 11:30

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