Successional patterns of beetles inhabiting dung pats were examined during May and July 1993 in a mountain area in northern Spain (Picos de Europa). Beetles belonging to six families were caught during the course of succession (30 d). Coprophagous beetles were more abundant in dung pats than predatory beetles (89 and 11%, respectively). A trophic sequence was observed in relation to age of the dung, coprophagous beetles occurring earlier in the dung than predatory beetles. The pattern was observed on two occasions during the season, though succession proceeded somewhat faster in July than in May. These results suggest that food availability and microclimatic conditions in dung pats appear to determine the successional occurrence of beetle taxa. On the other hand, coprophagous species (Aphodius) were poorly segregated along the successional axis. Null models failed to support the hypothesis that successional overlap and differences in successional mean occurrence between species could be the result of competition. Successional patterns at the specific level probably reflect differences in behaviour, such as pat location, feeding, mating, egg-laying and larva requirements, rather than competitive replacement.