Dung beetles are crucial in livestock systems due to their contribution to dung removal, nutrients cycling, carbon sequestration and sustainable pasture production. There are limited studies to elucidate abundance and species diversity across different ecosystems. Since utilization of dung beetles in promoting ecosystem functions such as dung removal, nutrients cycling and carbon sequestration is hinged on the above two community attributes, lack of such information limits their exploitation in management of pasturelands and hence need for further studies. This study aimed at evaluating the effects of seasons and land use types (LUTs) on abundance and biodiversity of dung beetles. Dung beetles were captured using 10 dung-baited pitfall traps per each LUT. Collection was done after 24 hours. Dung beetles were present across all diverse LUTs. Season and LUT significantly influenced the abundance and species diversity of coprophagous beetles at p < 0.001. They were significantly higher during the wet season and in LUTs under gazing influence such as the grazed pastureland and mixed woodland plantation. Some specie showed high preference for LUTs and seasons. Some of these included the nocturnal Milichus picticollis which preferred cool environments, the roller Sisyphus barbarosa and tunneler Euoniticellus triangulatus both present in environments with high cattle dung availability. In conclusion, this research provided the first enumeration of community attributes of dung beetles (abundance and species diversity) across different LUTs and seasons. Therefore, it forms an integral baseline over which future monitoring of biodiversity can be based. Finally, species-specific contribution of M. picticollis, S. barbarosa and E. triangulatus to ecosystem functions need to be elucidated for further exploitation in management of pasturelands.
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RUFORUM Working document series