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Eye and wing structure closely reflects the visual ecology of dung beetles

  • Claudia Tocco
  • Marie Dacke
  • Marcus Byrne
Publishing year: 2019
Language: English
Pages: 211-221
Publication/Series: Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Volume: 205
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

An important resource partitioning strategy allowing dung beetles to coexist in the same habitat, while utilising the same food, is species’ separation of activity times. After establishing the diel activity period of three closely related, co-occurring dung beetles, we examined their eye and wing morphology. Absolute and relative eye size, and facet size were greater in the nocturnal Escarabaeus satyrus, followed by the crepuscular Scarabaeus zambesianus and then the diurnal Kheper lamarcki. The diurnal K. lamarcki had the highest wing aspect ratio (long, narrow wings), followed by the crepuscular S. zambesianus and the nocturnal E. satyrus (short, broad wings), suggesting that dim-light active species fly slower than diurnal species. In addition, the two species active in dim light had a lower wing loading than the diurnal species, indicating the need for greater manoeuvrability in the dark. Analyses of wing shape revealed that the diurnal K. lamarcki wing had a proportionally larger jugal and anal region than both dim light species. Our results show that different species of dung beetles have a combination of optical and morphological wing adaptations to support their foraging activities in diverse light conditions.


  • Zoology
  • Aspect ratio
  • Diel activity period
  • Eye size
  • Scarabaeini
  • Wing loading


  • Lund Vision Group
  • ISSN: 0340-7594
Marie Dacke
E-mail: marie [dot] dacke [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

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