Assessing how communities respond to environmental gradients is one of the central questions of community ecology. In this paper new we assess the relationships of dung beetle functional diversity to aridity. We use surveys conducted by Indra deCastro-Arrazola during his PhD thesis in the Sahara, Kalahari and Chihuahua, where we measured traits from the captured individuals, to assess whether there are cvommon effects of progressive aridity on community structure. Importantly, aridity seems to be more important than competition or other limiting-similarity or stochastic processes. Its effect include a reduction in the overall functionality of the dung beetle communities, that can be attributed to the selection of a few distinct phenotypes adapted to the harsh desert conditions, rather than to a mere random loss of species. Our results may help forecasting the changes that dung beetle communities may undergo under the ongoing climate changes, particularly in regions that are progressively aridifying.

The infography above (by Pablo Castro Sánchez-Bermejo) provides a summary in Spanish. You can read the article at