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Quantifying responses of dung beetles to fire disturbance in tropical forests: the importance of trapping method and seasonality

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Rafael Barreto de Andrade
  • Jos Barlow
  • Julio Louzada
  • Fernando Zagury Vaz-de-Mello
  • Mateus Souza
  • Juliana M. Silveira
  • Mark A. Cochrane
Article numbere26208
Journal publication date18/10/2011
JournalPLoS ONE
Number of pages9
Original languageEnglish


Understanding how biodiversity responds to environmental changes is essential to provide the evidence-base that underpins conservation initiatives. The present study provides a standardized comparison between unbaited flight intercept traps (FIT) and baited pitfall traps (BPT) for sampling dung beetles. We examine the effectiveness of the two to assess fire disturbance effects and how trap performance is affected by seasonality. The study was carried out in a transitional forest between Cerrado (Brazilian Savanna) and Amazon Forest. Dung beetles were collected during one wet and one dry sampling season. The two methods sampled different portions of the local beetle assemblage. Both FIT and BPT were sensitive to fire disturbance during the wet season, but only BPT detected community differences during the dry season. Both traps showed similar correlation with environmental factors. Our results indicate that seasonality had a stronger effect than trap type, with BPT more effective and robust under low population numbers, and FIT more sensitive to fine scale heterogeneity patterns. This study shows the strengths and weaknesses of two commonly used methodologies for sampling dung beetles in tropical forests, as well as highlighting the importance of seasonality in shaping the results obtained by both sampling strategies.

Bibliographic note

© 2011 Andrade et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.