Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 399–411 | Cite as

Effects of land usage on dung beetle assemblage structure: Kruger National Park versus adjacent farmland in South Africa

  • Adrian L. V. Davis
  • Clarke H. Scholtz
  • Anthony M. Swemmer


Little quantitative evidence exists regarding how effective protected areas are for preserving species. We compared dung beetle assemblages (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) inside and outside of the Kruger National Park, which protects indigenous flora and fauna over a large area of savanna in the northeast lowlands of South Africa. Although it is contiguous with other reserves in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, parts of its border abut onto farmland. Some effects of differing land usage either side of this border were studied at the South African Wildlife College (24.541° S 31.335° E) and the nearby farming village of Welverdiend using dung beetle assemblage structure (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) as indicators. Samples were taken from gabbro-derived and granite-derived soils in open woody vegetation, both within the reserve and on adjoining farmland, using composite pig, elephant and cattle dung baits in the early rainy season (November 2009) and separate pig and elephant dung baits in the late rainy season (March 2010). Despite much higher large mammal density around Welverdiend, significantly greater species richness, abundance, and biomass of dung beetles were recorded in the reserve where mammal species diversity is greater and elephants produce much larger droppings than any mammal in the farmland. Assemblage structure also differed strongly between dung types, weather conditions on sample days, and season, but weakly between sampled soil types. These differences in assemblage structure were recorded over short distances as the sites in the reserve were only 3–4 km from those in farmland at Welverdiend.


Conservation Dung Elephant Farmland Kruger National Park Land usage South Africa 



Gawie Lindeque, senior field co-ordinator at the South African Wildlife College, assisted in the selection of study sites. Staff and post graduate students of the Scarab Research Unit, University of Pretoria, are thanked for conducting the field work (Werner Strümpher, Cornel du Toit, Carmen Jacobs) as well as assisting in the sorting of samples (Dr Catherine Sole, Christian Deschodt, Suko Mlambo, Louwtjie Snyman, Angelika Switala, Power Tshikae, Rentia Tukker). Joel Tleane (Kruger National Park) and Dawn Mahlobo (South African Weather Service) are thanked for providing rainfall and temperature data. The study was suggested and supported by the Ndlovu Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian L. V. Davis
    • 1
  • Clarke H. Scholtz
    • 1
  • Anthony M. Swemmer
    • 2
  1. 1.Scarab Research Unit, Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaHatfieldSouth Africa
  2. 2.South African Environmental Observation NetworkSAEON Ndlovu NodeKruger National ParkSouth Africa

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