Data from: Tropical dung beetle morphological traits predict functional traits and show intra-specific differences across land uses

Published on 2018-08-08T16:14:04Z (GMT) by
1. Functional traits and functional diversity measures are increasingly being used to examine land use effects on biodiversity and community assembly rules. 2. Morphological traits are frequently derived from a mean value of many individuals, and used directly as functional traits. However, this approach overlooks the importance of intraspecific differences. 3. We collected morphometric data from over 1700 individuals of 12 species of dung beetle to establish whether morphological measurements can be used as predictors of behavioral traits. We also compared morphology among individuals collected from different land uses to identify if intra-specific differences in morphology vary among land use types. 4. We show that leg and eye measurements can be used to predict dung beetle nesting behavior and period of activity, and used this information to confirm the previously unresolved nesting behavior for Synapsis ritsemae. 5. We found intra-specific differences in morphological traits across different land use types. Phenotypic plasticity was found for traits associated with dispersal (wing aspect ratio and wing loading) and reproductive capacity (abdomen size). 6. The ability to predict behavioral functional traits from morphology is useful where the behavior of dung beetles cannot be directly observed, especially in tropical environments where the ecology of many species is poorly understood. 7. There have been very few studies investigating variability in animal traits. We provide evidence that land use change can cause phenotypic plasticity in tropical dung beetle species. Our results reinforce recent calls for intraspecific variation in traits to receive more attention within community ecology.

Cite this collection

Raine, Elizabeth H.; Gray, Claudia L.; J. Mann, Darren; M. Slade, Eleanor; Raine, Elizabeth (2018): Data from: Tropical dung beetle morphological traits predict functional traits and show intra-specific differences across land uses. figshare. Collection.