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Dung Beetles of the Western Palaearctic
Milotic T, Baltzinger C, Eichberg C, Eycott A, Heurich M, Müller J, Noriega J, Menendez R, Stadler J, Ádám R, Bargmann T, Bilger I, Buse J, Calatayud J, Ciubuc C, Boros G, Jay-Robert P, Kruus M, Merivee E, Miessen G, Must A, Ardali E, Preda E, Rahimi I, Rohwedder D, Slade E, Somay L, Tahmasebi P, Ziani S, Brosens D, Desmet P, Hoffmann M (2017): Dung Beetles of the Western Palaearctic. v1.3. Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). Dataset/Samplingevent.

Access data
Archived data
Availability: CC0 To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this dataset has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this dataset.

The dataset aggregates the results from a pan-European multi-site experiment, financially supported by the ALTER-Net consortium, Europe’s Ecosystem Research Network. In this multi-site experiment, the impact of dung beetle assemblages on dung decomposition and secondary seed dispersal was studied. more

Working at a multi-site level allowed us to study the link between ecosystem functions of dung removal and secondary seed dispersal, and dung beetle diversity and abundance in a broad range of bioclimatic zones. Therefore, grazed grasslands throughout the Western Palaearctic zone were included in the experiment. By experimentally manipulating the access of certain dung beetle functional groups to the experimental units, we were able to estimate the value of each functional group for ecosystem functioning and assess the impact of predicted climate change on these processes through the changes it induces in dung beetle assemblage composition. During the experiments, the removal of different types of dung and seeds were measured and the dung beetle assemblage composition was determined using different types of dung as bait. The experiments took place between 2013 and 2016, at 17 study sites in 10 countries within the Western Palaearctic realm. The dung beetle occurrence data set contains all dung beetle specimens sampled during the 4-week experimental periods at each sampling site.
To allow anyone to use this dataset, we have released the data to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero waiver ( We would appreciate however, if you read and follow these norms for data use ( and provide a link to the original dataset ( whenever possible. If you use these data for a scientific paper, please cite the dataset following the applicable citation norms and/or consider us for co-authorship. We are always interested to know how you have used or visualized the data, or to provide more information, so please contact us via the contact information provided in the metadata, or
Geographic coverage
The multi-site experiment was carried out on 17 study sites covering 10 countries in the Western Palaearctic realm. All study areas consisted of natural grasslands which had been grazed by domestic and/or wild herbivores for at least a couple of years prior to the experiment.
Taxonomic coverage
We defined 'dung beetles' as species of the superfamily Scarabaeoidea that generally feed on dung in both the larval and adult phase. Some species of other beetle families such as Hydrophilidae and Staphylinidae are commonly found in dung as well and could be considered as dung beetles as well (Hanski, Cambefort 1991). Nevertheless, they are not coprophagous during their entire life cycle (Finn et al. 1999) and they do not contribute to lateral or vertical dung transport which was one of the major research questions in our study. Therefore, dung beetles were strictly defined as the coprophagous species in the Geotrupidae and Scarabaeidae families.
Sampling methods
During the experiments, the dung beetle community was sampled in each study area. In 2013 and 2014, two main types of pitfall traps were used in order to achieve a complete view of dung beetle diversity and abundance. The first trap type consisted of one large container (1 l) with a 11 cm wide opening at the top, and covered with hexagonal chicken wire (with mesh diameter of 25 mm) and dung as bait (as described in Larsen, Forsyth (2005)). In sampling campaigns in 2013 and 2014, approximately 100 g of dung packed in a nylon bag was put on top of the chicken wire (sampling protocol "T1" in the dataset), while in 2015 the traps were baited with a larger amount of unwrapped dung (ca. 500 g) put directly on the chicken wire (sampling protocol "T1L"). The second trap type consisted of five smaller containers (0.2 l) with a 7 cm wide opening at the top, and surrounding a central dung pile of approximately 300 g (as in D'hondt et al. (2008), sampling protocol "T5"). In all trap types containers were dug into the soil with the upper rim levelled with the soil surface. Containers were filled with a saturated salt-water solution (ca. 365 g l-1 NaCl with some drops of unscented detergent). All pitfall traps were set up randomly between the experimental units with six replicates per dung type used in the dung removal experiment. Traps were put in operation one week after the start of the dung removal and seed dispersal experiments in order to avoid interference with the initial beetle colonization phase of the experiment. Traps were emptied weekly and sampling stopped after one month, equalling three sampling occasions per experimental period. Study Extent The multi-site experiment was carried out on 17 study sites covering 10 countries (Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Norway, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom). Each study site was assigned to a biogeographic region according to Udvardy (1975). When possible, the experiment was replicated on a spatial scale by selecting study sites within the same biogeographic region, and on a temporal scale by replicating the experiment in different seasons and/or years. All study areas consisted of natural grasslands which had been grazed by domestic and/or wild herbivores for at least a couple of years prior to the experiment.
Method step description
  1. Dung beetle specimens were extracted from the samples and identified at species level.
  2. For each species, the number of individuals was counted per sampling unit (pitfall) with indication of sampling date, used dung bait and geographic location.

Terrestrial, Data, Dung beetles, Ecology, Palearctic Region,

Geographical coverage
Palearctic Region

Temporal coverage
1 September 2013 - 7 July 2016

Taxonomic coverage

Occurrence of biota

Vlaamse overheid; Beleidsdomein Omgeving; Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek (INBO), moredata creator
National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA), moredata creator
Trier University, moredata creator
University of Bergen (UiB), moredata creator
Bavarian Forest National Park, moredata creator
Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), moredata creator
Lancaster University, moredata creator
Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), moredata creator
University Koblenz-Landau, moredata creator
University of Alcalá, moredata creator
University of Bucharest, moredata creator
University of Montpellier, moredata creator
Estonian University of Life Sciences, moredata creator
Miessen, Geoffreydata creator
Universiteit Gent (UGent), moredata creator
Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum Alexander Koenig, moredata creator
University of Oxford, moredata creator
GEOLAB, moredata creator

LifeWatch: Flemish contribution to, more

Dataset status: Completed
Data type: Data
Data origin: Data collection
Metadatarecord created: 2017-08-22
Information last updated: 2022-10-21
All data in the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy