Can dung beetles from the palaeoecological and archaeological record indicate herd concentration and the identity of herbivores?

Smith, D., Nayyar, K., Schreve, D., Thomas, R. and Whitehouse, N. (2014) Can dung beetles from the palaeoecological and archaeological record indicate herd concentration and the identity of herbivores? Quaternary International, 341, pp. 119-130. (doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2013.11.032)

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Abstract

We present the results from two analogue studies that examine two aspects of dung beetle populations. Firstly, the degree to which the proportions of dung beetles in terrestrial faunas may reflect herd concentration is assessed by comparing modern sub-fossil faunas retrieved from a range of small ponds at Dunham Massey, Cheshire and Epping Forest in London. These studies suggest that it may be possible to use the proportions of ‘dung beetles’ recovered to differentiate high from low density grazing pressures in the palaeoentomological and archaeoentomological record. A second study examines the insect faunas recovered from modern samples of dung from a range of bovids, cervids, suids and equids, chosen to replicate, as closely as possible, Pleistocene taxa. These include the famous Chillingham cattle herd from Northumberland and herds of red deer, wild boar and Konik horses from Kent. When the numbers of individuals and the nature and range of beetles in the whole fauna are considered, it may be possible to differentiate between the dung of a range of different animals. A number of limitations with the present study, their implications and the future potential of this type of study are outlined.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Whitehouse, Dr Nicki
Authors: Smith, D., Nayyar, K., Schreve, D., Thomas, R., and Whitehouse, N.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Quaternary International
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1040-6182
ISSN (Online):1873-4553
Published Online:21 January 2014
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in Quaternary International 341: 119-130
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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