WCS Colombia

Dung Beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae)

Our country is home of around 400 dung beetles species -many of them endemic- exceeding species richness recorded in Panama, Ecuador, Peru and México. Due to their great sensitivity to habitat fragmentation and transformation, this group of insects has been increasingly used as “Ecological indicator of human disturbance”. Their ecological sensitivity derives from the dependence on substrates such as vertebrate’s dung (eg mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians) and carrion, resources that are particularly ephemeral and highly desired by other soil organisms in Neotropical forests. At the landscape-scale, the diversity of dung assemblages is modulated by the area of forest patches, the spatial configuration of cover vegetation, the quality of the “productive matrix” and the history of anthropogenic use.

If ants, termites and earthworms are the soil architects, we could say dung beetles are the “soil tractors”. These beetles are mechanical factors that play an important role in several ecological processes such as the removal and redistribution of organic matter, soil aeration, secondary dispersion of seeds and parasite control. Therefore, the impoverishment of dung assemblies may cause negative effects such as speed reduction at which nutrients return to the soil and increase of parasites populations associated to the dung.

In the “Eje Cafetero” Ecoregion, WCS-Colombia in partnership with universities and research institutions (e.g CENICAFE and IAvH) has been working on ecological evaluations of dung beetles within protected areas and their adjacent agricultural matrices. The study of Scarabaeinae is developed under two complementary working lines: 1) taxonomy and 2) analyses of alpha and beta biodiversity at different spatial scales.

Currently, dung beetles are considered as a relevant biological group to conduct ecological diagnosis in rural landscapes located at the buffer areas of the main protected areas in the region (e.g. Natural National Park - NNP Los Nevados, NNP Tatamá and Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary). For the ecoregion, our inter-institutional work has allowed us to build up a list of 73 species in 19 genera, which include typical species of Andean forest interior, highly sensitive to forest fragmentation and transformation such as Genieridium medinae, Canthon politus, Deltochilum hypponum and Onthophagus mirabillis.


Sede Principal (Cali):
Avenida 5 Norte # 22 N - 11 Barrio Versalles
Teléfono: +57 (2) 379 9322
Cel: +57 320 6719711

Sede Bogotá:
Cra. 7 No. 82-66 Torres San José
Torre A - Oficina 312
Teléfono: + 57 (1) 721 8116

Key Staff

Carlos Andrés Cultid Medina
Associated researcher
Bedir Martínez
Associated researcher

Featured Partners

Universidad del Valle