What is Taxonomy?
Biological taxonomy is the scientific discipline of classifying and naming the organisms that compose present and past biodiversity as formal units or entities, the taxa. Its work consists of three steps: (1) the recognition, delimitation, and differential definition (or diagnosis) of the basic discrete units resulting from the evolutionary process (the species), (2) the establishment of a hierarchical classification of these taxa reflecting their evolutionary relationships, and (3) their naming according to nomenclatural rules relying on museum-kept voucher specimens (so-called ‘types’).
In the current era of the internet, social media and online databases together with the development of digital photography, more and more new species and new regional records are discovered by the general public. Plant and animal enthusiasts and photographers are increasingly posting images on platforms such as Flickr, Instagram, iNaturalist, Facebook and Twitter.
Why should we care about dung beetles?
Dung beetles provide valuable ecological and economic services. The net value of dung beetles is estimated at ~$2 billion per year for the agriculture and cattle industries worldwide. As nutrient recyclers, dung beetles aid in dung decomposition while integrating the natural fertilizer in the soil.
What are dung beetles?
Well, beetles that feed on dung. But while this is largely true, the definition of dung beetle is actually more complicated, being a mixture of an ecological trait (coprophagy) and a taxonomic classification (belonging to the scarabs). So dung beetles are those species of the large superfamily of scarab beetles (Scarabaeoidea) that feed on manure or belong to a taxonomic group that contains mainly dung-feeders. Dung feeding (coprophagy) has evolved several times within the scarabs, with the major groups being the Geotrupidae (dor beetles; ~150 species), the Aphodiinae (dung dwellers; ~3,500 species, Figure 1), and the Scarabaeinae (the dung beetles proper; ~7,000 species, Figure 2).
Dung beetles in the tribe Sisyphini represent some of the most charismatic members of the subfamily Scarabaeinae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae), notable for their distinctive dung-rolling behaviour. The tribe Sisyphini was proposed to accommodate the genus Sisyphus Latreille.