Christopher Teutsch1, Mary Arnaudin1, Stephan Wildeus2, D. Wes Watson3 and A. Ozzie Abaye4, (1)Virginia Tech, Blackstone, VA (2)Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA (3)Department of Entomology, NCSU, Raleigh, NC (4)330 Smyth Hall (0404), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Dung beetle activity has been shown to enhance nutrient cycling by the degradation and incorporation of dung into the soil. Dung beetle communities in pastures occupied by alpacas and other camelids have not been documented in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Dung baited pitfall traps were used to conduct a survey of dung beetles in alpaca pastures located at Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA from May to September in 2010 and 2011. Beetles were collected weekly and identified to species. Of the 3,136 beetles collected, 11 species were represented: Onthophagus taurus Schreber, O. pennsylvanicus Harold, O. hecate hecate Panzer, Copris minutus Drury, Phanaeus vindex MacLeay, Dichotomius carolinus Linnaeus, Sphaeridium scarabaeoides Linnaeus, Aphodius erraticus Linnaeus, A. fimetarius Linnaeus, A. (Nialaphodius) nigrita Fabricius, and A. (Labarrus) lividus Olivier. The most common species found in both years was O. taurus, which accounted for 43% and 59% of the populations in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Paracoprid tunneler beetles dominated the collection in both years. Both native and exotic species were abundant, indicating that the presence of exotic dung beetle species in this study was not detrimental to native populations. The species abundance and diversity fluctuated throughout the summer, likely related to weather patterns. These data indicate that abundant and diverse communities of dung beetles exist in alpaca pastures in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States.