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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Mar 15;618:219-228. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.331. Epub 2017 Nov 9.

Ivermectin residues disrupt dung beetle diversity, soil properties and ecosystem functioning: An interdisciplinary field study.

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I.U.I. CIBIO, Universidad de Alicante, Alicante E-03690, Spain. Electronic address:
Department of Biogeography and Global Change, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales-CSIC, José Abascal 2, Madrid E-28006, Spain.
Departamento de Zoología, Universidad de Granada, Granada E-18071, Spain.
I.U.I. CIBIO, Universidad de Alicante, Alicante E-03690, Spain.
IUCN-Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, Marie Curie 22, Campanillas, Málaga E-29590, Spain.
UMR 5175 CEFE, CNRS - Université de Montpellier - Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 - EPHE, Université Paul-Valéry Laboratoire Zoogéographie, Route de Mende, 34199 cedex 5 Montpellier, France.
Departamento de Química Inorgánica y Química Orgánica, Universidad de Jaén, Campus Las Lagunillas, Jaén E-23071, Spain.
Center for Functional Ecology (CEF), Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Calçada Martim de Freitas, 3000-456 Coimbra, Portugal.


Ivermectin is the most common endectocide used to control parasites affecting livestock. Short-term physiological and behavioural effects of ivermectin on dung beetles may have long-term consequences for beetle populations and ecosystem functioning. Long-term effects of the use of ivermectin can be estimated by comparing dung assemblages and ecosystem functions in areas with conventional ivermectin-treated livestock and environmentally similar areas in which livestock are not treated with veterinary medical products (organic farming). In this study, we investigated both short-term and long-term effects of the administration of ivermectin on the characteristics of dung beetle assemblages and the services they provided in a protected area (Doñana National Park, SW Spain). We examined short-term dung colonization, dwelling, relocation, and disaggregation rates and the associations between these processes and the key assemblage parameters of species richness, abundance, biomass and functional diversity. Furthermore, we analysed changes in soil physical-chemical properties and processes. Short-term differences were observed in the total amount of dung relocated by dung beetles at different colonization vs. emigration stages, suggesting that dung beetles in this area were affected by the recent treatments of livestock with ivermectin. Moreover, short-term effects could also be responsible for the significant differences in dung spreading rates between sites. Conventional use of ivermectin disrupted ecosystem functioning by affecting species richness, abundance and biomass. The decrease in diversity parameters was related to a reduction in the functional efficiency, which resulted in the long-term accumulation of dung on the ground and considerable changes in soil functionality.


Ecosystem services; Ecotoxicology; Natural protected areas; Organic livestock; Scarabaeidae; Veterinary medical products

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