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Abstract, Basic and Applied Ecology, 2019

Agroecosystems represent a large geographical footprint in most terrestrial landscapes, and management decisions within these systems affect their function in species conservation. We evaluated the effects that rangeland management systems (based on stocking density, rotation frequency, and the number of avermectin applications) have on conserving the dung arthropod community in the Northern Great Plains of North America. Comprehensive bioinventories of arthropods were collected from 16 rangelands using core samples of dung pats. Ivermectin was quantified in pats from each ranch using enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA). Arthropods in dung were abundant (116,244 specimens) and diverse in eastern South Dakota (172 morphospecies). Rangelands managed with more regenerative practices (frequent rotation at high stocking densities and lack of ivermectin applications) had greater species richness, diversity, predator species abundance, and dung beetle abundance than more conventionally managed rangelands. Ivermectin quantity in cattle pats was negatively correlated with dung beetle abundance and diversity. This work shows that herd management (specifically high-intensity, frequent rotational grazing and eliminating prophylactic ivermectin use) that aims to mimic intensive grazing of large migrating herds of ruminants can foster dung arthropod community structure, a key trait correlated with nutrient cycling, pest suppression, and productivity of cattle-grazed rangelands.

Keywords : Agroecology, Avermectin, Dung beetles, Grasslands, Regenerative agriculture