Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jones, Holly P.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


The restoration of degraded ecosystems often focuses on reestablishing species richness and diversity of native organisms, especially plants. However, functional trait descriptions of communities are emerging as a more comprehensive approach to evaluating restorations, including consumer communities. I examined the species composition and functional traits of dung beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabeidae) communities across a chronosequence of restored tallgrass prairie in Illinois, in which sites varied in the presence of bison and the application of prescribed fire during the study. Data were collected on behavioral guild and body measurements, and functional diversity metrics (functional richness, evenness, divergence, and dispersion) were analyzed using generalized linear models. I also performed a dung decomposition experiment to measure an ecosystem function driven by these insects. Bison sites had higher beetle abundance and biomass than non-bison sites. Bison sites also had lower functional divergence and functional dispersion than non-bison sites, but bison presence and prescribed fire interacted to affect functional richness. Dung beetles and other arthropods did contribute significantly to dung decomposition, and decomposition decreased with site age. My research reinforces the use of dung beetles as indicators of functional restoration in grasslands. I recommend that restoration managers consider the arthropod community and its functional characteristics when making management decisions.


66 pages




Northern Illinois University

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