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Nesting biology and life history of the dung beetle Onthophagus lecontei (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae)

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Obtaining knowledge about a species’ life history and reproductive behaviour is fundamental for understanding its biology, ecology, and potential role in ecosystem services. Here, we focused on the dung beetle species Onthophagus lecontei. Adults were collected in the field and then confined to terrariums, where they were supplied with semi-fresh domestic goat dung (Capra aegagrus Erxleben, 1777). After being paired (26 pairs), the nesting behavior of beetles was observed under laboratory conditions and the preimaginal development of individuals obtained from mating (from the deposition of the egg until the emergence of the adult) was described. Their nesting behavior was found to be characteristic of what is known as pattern I, which comprises building of brood masses, oviposition of a single egg in each brood mass, development of three larval instars, construction of a pupation chamber, pupal stage and adult emergence. Both sexes were involved in the handling of dung, tunnel construction, and mass nest elaboration. Pairs built from one to seven brood masses. The pre-nesting period (feeding) lasted 16 days; the egg stage two days, the larval period 22 days; the pupal period 11 days and the imagoes four days, after which the adults emerged. Our results are discussed and compared with other species in the genus. However, our knowledge of this dung beetle is still limited, and further studies are required in all areas of its biology.

Affiliations: 1: 1Instituto de Ecología, A. C., Red de Ecoetología, Carretera antigua a Coatepec 351, El Haya, Xalapa 91070, Veracruz, Mexico ; 2: 2Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, Autopista Tlaxcala-San Martín Texmelucan km 10.5, San Felipe Ixtacuixtla 90120, Tlaxcala, Mexico ; 3: 3Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Maestría en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, Carretera Tlaxcala-Puebla km 1.5, Colonia Xicoténcatl, Tlaxcala 90070, Tlaxcala, Mexico

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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