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University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Entomology Online Masters Program Final Project. Lincoln, Nebraska
The decomposition of fecal matter is critical for an ecosystem, turning matter into a form that is usable by other organisms; the removal of feces also eliminates breeding sites for pests and prevents waste from entering waterways. The aim of this study was to survey arthropod populations that are attracted to dog feces in suburban and residential settings. Due to their established role in nutrient recycling, an emphasis was placed on identifying dung beetle species present. Monitoring was conducted in Lancaster County, Nebraska from July to September 2017 using pitfall traps and rearing experiments. It was hypothesized that southeast Nebraska supports a low level of paracoprid dung beetle activity. Furthermore, it was predicted that arthropods commonly found in association with vertebrate feces (e.g. calliphorid and sarcophagid species) would be recovered during rearing experiments. Arthropods from four classes and ten orders were collected during this evaluation; a total of seven scarab beetle species were identified. Results from this study were used to estimate species richness and abundance at each of the three sites evaluated. This information was then used to identify future work required to assess whether native arthropod populations could be augmented to recycle canine waste in Lancaster County, Nebraska.