Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Lora Perkins

Second Advisor

Jonathan Lundgren


avermectin, dung beetles, dung colonization, dung pat decomposition, range management


Cattle grazing operations are an important industry throughout the world and a vital component of the economy of the Northern Great Plains. Rangeland management is important to ensure that cattle grazing remains not only profitable but also environmentally sustainable. Conventionally managed rangeland systems that practice continuous grazing and repeated applications of chemicals such as avermectins pose a risk to the continuing productivity of rangelands. These practices have ecological consequences, primarily to the arthropod community that inhabits cattle dung pats. This diverse community works together to recycle dung pats and make the nutrients in dung accessible to the surrounding plant community, an essential role in the functionality of rangelands. The research within this thesis describes the influence of management systems on the dung arthropod community across eastern South Dakota. This community is represented by 172 morphospecies represented by 14 orders of arthropods that inhabit dung pats. We have gained an understanding of the community’s response to dung pat age and their contribution to the degradation of dung within pastures. A dung arthropod community with lower abundance, species richness and diversity will result in a dung pat takings 33-38 days longer to breakdown than pats accessed by an intact arthropod community. The management system strongly influenced the arthropod community and use of continuous grazing and avermectin parasiticides resulted in a disruption of arthropods living in dung. These conventional practices resulted in a lower number of beneficial predators, higher abundances of pest maggot species, and most notably; a decreased in abundance and diversity of dung beetles relative to management systems that used high density, rotational grazing and no avermectins. Dung beetles are keystone species within the dung fauna and their colonization of dung pats is essential for a complete community structure to occur within a pasture’s dung pats. Future research should continue to implement system level changes to a pasture over multiple grazing seasons and observe the changes in the dung arthropod community as well as economics of the management changes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dung beetles -- South Dakota.
Dung beetles -- Effect of grazing on -- South Dakota.
Arthropoda -- South Dakota.
Range management -- South Dakota.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2017 Jacob Pecenka


Dung beetles -- South Dakota.
Dung beetles -- Effect of grazing on -- South Dakota.
Arthropoda -- South Dakota.
Range management -- South Dakota.