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Climatic stress, food availability and human activity as determinants of endemism patterns in the Mediterranean region: the case of dung beetles (Coleoptera, Scarabaeoidea) in the Iberian Peninsula

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Abstract.

A study to assess the influence of abiotic (climatic conditions) and biotic factors (food resources, habitat preference and human activity) on endemism patterns of dung beetles in the Mediterranean region was conducted in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. The Thermicity Index (It), the Mediterraneity Index (Im3) and the Aridity Index (Ia) were used to assess the influence of abiotic factors. Relative rabbit density (DR), the proportion of landscape used historically for grazing by sheep and goats and the nature of the food resource were used to assess the influence of biotic factors. Relative endemism (EN) of dung beetle assemblages was positively and significantly related with all of the factors considered. However, the Aridity and Mediterraneity Indices are the best predictors of EN. The predicted endemism (EN = 0.017 Ia + 0.004 Im3 + 0.422) was highly positively and significantly related with the observed endemism. Dung beetle assemblages with the highest relative endemism were observed in the south-eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. This distribution corresponded to the highest Aridity and Mediterraneity. In contrast, dung beetle assemblages with lower endemism were located in more humid and temperate areas. Assemblages of dung beetles with the highest endemism comprise many species adapted to aridity and the exploitation of dry dung pellets. Conservation of traditional grazing activity by pellet-dropping sheep and goats might benefit the maintenance of dung beetle biodiversity in Mediterranean ecosystems.
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Keywords: Endemism distribution; Mediterranean ecosystem; bioclimatic indices; biodiversity; dung beetles assemblages

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations:  Centro Iberoamericano de la Biodiversidad (CIBIO), Universidad de Alicante, San Vicente del Raspeig, E-03080, Alicante, Spain

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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