Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 963–979 | Cite as

The impact of the introduced Digitonthophagus gazella on a native dung beetle community in Brazil during 26 years

  • Walter Mesquita Filho
  • Carlos A. H. Flechtmann
  • Wesley. A. C. Godoy
  • Ottar N. Bjornstad
Original Paper


Following successful establishment in Australia and North America, the South African dung beetle (DB) Digitonthophagus gazella was introduced in Brazil in 1990. We investigated the impact of the exotic species on the native community of 42 native DB species using a unique weekly data set spanning 26 years, including 4 years of pre-invasion data. The invasion of D. gazella was very rapid with abundances increasing by 4 orders of magnitude during the first few years following establishment. We show that the DB diversity shrank to sixty percent of the pre-invasion level. Results from multivariate analyses identified three distinct periods of changes in composition and abundance: before the invasion (BI); after invasion I (AI-I); and AI-II each one characterized by a particular dynamic of the native species. The impacts on the native species differed according to their nesting behavior. Species with the same behavior as D. gazella (tunneler) became less abundant and five species went locally extinct. Dweller species, in contrast, became more abundant. Although the analysis of all species combined showed an increase in abundance and a less oscillatory dynamic in AI-II compared to BI, this was the case only for the dweller species, as the tunnelers showed a tendency to continued decrease throughout the 26-year study. Our results show that a new community was originated as a consequence of the invasion, in which dweller species, particularly Labarrus pseudolividus, are the dominant species and all the tunnelers, including D. gazella, are decreasing in abundance.


Scarabaeidae Biological invasion Invasive species Native community Dung beetles Pasture area 



CAHF would like to thank his UNESP students Alexsander Seleguini, Angelo Luiz Tadeu Ottati, Cid Tacaoca Muraishi, Fabiana Oikawa, and Sérgio Roberto Rodrigues, who worked on the identification of the species over the years, all local Farm employees for making possible the collections throughout all these years, with special thanks to Moacir José Ruela, and the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, Process No. 99/08312-2) for financial support. WMF extends thanks to the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for the Ph.D. grant, and to Damie Pak, Catherine Herzog and Rafael Zenni for their thoughtful reviews.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 19 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 1158 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Entomologia e Acarologia, Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de QueirozUniversidade de São Paulo (USP)PiracicabaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Fitossanidade, Faculdade de EngenhariaUniversidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)Ilha SolteiraBrazil
  3. 3.Departments of Entomology and BiologyPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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