An intercontinental comparison of dung beetle diversity between two mediterranean-climatic regions: local versus regional and historical influences



The species richness of biological communities is influenced by both local ecological, regional ecological, and historical factors. The relative importance of these factors may be deduced by comparison between communities in climatically and ecologically equivalent, but geographically and historically separate regions of the world. This claim is based on the hypothesis that community processes driven by similar local ecological factors lead to convergence in species richness whereas those driven by differing regional or historical factors lead to divergence. An intercontinental comparison between the winter rainfall regions of South Africa and the Iberian Peninsula showed that overall species richness of dung beetles was dissimilar at local, subregional and regional scales in Scarabaeidae s. str. but similar at all scales in Aphodiinae. Removal of species widespread in the summer rainfall region of Africa or the temperate region of Europe (regional component) resulted in dissimilarity in species richness of mediterranean endemics at all scales in both dung beetle taxa. However, the lines joining each set of species richness values were parallel which may indicate similarities in processes between different mediterranean climatic regions despite slight differences in latitudinal range. The dominant pattern of dissimilarity or non-convergence may be related primarily to intercontinental differences in regional biogeographical and evolutionary history (faunal dispersal, glaciation effects in relation to geographical barriers to dispersal, speciation history, long-term disturbance history). The limited pattern of similarity or convergence in overall species richness of Aphodiinae may be a chance result or primarily related to intercontinental similarities in local ecological factors.