Research dung beetles shows relationship large herbivores and open landscapes

10 – 10 – 2014

New research on the presence of dung beetles shows a relationship between presence of large herbivores and semi open or so called park like landscape, while absence of large herbivores leads to closed forests. Periods with relative large numbers of large herbivores show a higher abundance of heat loving dung beetles, while during other periods more forest species are accounted.

For the methodology of this investigation four different time periods were identified; late Holocene, early Holocene, Pleistocene and previous interglacial. Mainly the warmer periods are of interest. It is known that during previous interglacial large numbers of herbivores were present in Europe including elephant and rhinoceros species. Early Holocene is known for relative low numbers of large herbivores. During this period modern humans have arrived and mega herbivores have gone extinct. The late Holocene, mainly last 5000 years again show large numbers of herbivores, but this time mainly domestic animals. Modern human have started domestication of wildlife and small scale farmers or shepherds were found everywhere.

Both previous interglacial and the late Holocene show a high abundance of heat loving dung beetle species, indicating open or semi open landscapes. Early Holocene shows higher numbers of forest dung beetle species indication closed forests.

These researchers show a direct relationship between presence of large herbivores, either wild of domestic, and presence of open landscapes. Earlier research pointed that much of today’s biodiversity within Europe in connected to open landscapes. While large number of livestock are still present in modern agri business, only small numbers are present within nature. Populations are overhunted while small scale farming or sheparding is no longer economically viable and is vanishing. Rewilding including return of wildlife in natural unhunted densities (but without additional feeding which results in over populations and overgrazing) seems key to Europes biodivers future.

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