Figure 8. - Salisbury University

Illustrated Keys to the Dung Beetles of Maryland
Simone N. Nemes and Dana L. Price
Department of Biological Sciences, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801
The taxonomic community is aware of the diversity and ecological importance
of dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae). Currently,
however there is no comprehensive guide to this subfamily in Maryland, or to
the Mid-Atlantic Region. The purpose of this project is to create up-to-date
taxonomic keys for the identification of Maryland dung beetles. This research
will contribute to a “Taxonomic Guide of the Scarabaeoidea of Maryland”.
The key is completed, and we are currently preparing it for submission to
The Coleopterist Bulletin, a peer-review quarterly journal that documents the
ecology and taxonomy of beetles. The key also includes anatomical
illustrations for those who may be confused by some of the terminology in
the characters (Figs. 4-5). Seven large, black and white drawings have
been created to provide a representative for each genus (Figs, 7-12), each
of which average between 10-20 hours of work. An example of the Tribal
key is shown below (Fig. XX). Certain characters may be ambiguous, so I
have drawn figures in order to improve usability (Figs. XX).
I have created a dichotomous key to the tribes and genera of dung
beetles of Maryland, which includes original illustrations. This key has been
peer-reviewed and tested for accuracy in identification. The goal of this
project is two-fold: 1) we would like to contribute this resource to the taxonomic
community so that the identification of these species can be improved and
streamlined; and 2) to document the diversity of dung beetle species in
Maryland. This work is currently In Prep for publication.
Figure 13a. Dorsal body plan illustration for
the key.
Figure 13b. Ventral body plan illustration for
the key.
Figure 4. Page from the dichotomous key.
Figure 5.
Materials and Methods
Using the Camera Lucida microscope (Fig.
1) I sketch a basic body plan of each
specimen to make sure the proportions are
correct. Afterwards, I free-hand the details
while examining the specimen underneath
a microscope.
Figure 6.
Creation of a dichotomous key
Below are listed the steps I’ve taken
toward creating this key.
• Examined all specimens in the SU
collection to write key characters
• Visited to Smithsonian National
Museum of Natural History (Fig. 2, Fig.
3) to examine the specimens there and
test the keys
• I have had the key peer-reviewed and
tested by students.
Figure 1. Camera Lucida
Figure 12. Genera illustration for Ateuchus.
Figure 7. Genera illustration for Copris.
(Length: 8.0- 18.5 mm).
Figure 8. Genera illustration for
Melanocanthon. (Length: 6.0- 10.0 mm).
(Length 5.5- 7.3 mm).
Figure 2. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Figure 8. Genera illustration for
Dichotomius. (Length 19.8-28.2 mm).
Figure 3. A drawer of specimens at the Smithsonian Museum
Support Center
Figure 9. Genera illustration for
Canthon. (Length: 2.0- 20.4 mm).
Figure 10. Genera illustration for
Onthophagus. (Length: 3.0- 10.5 mm).
I would like to thank the Henson School of Sciences and the Guerrieri
Undergraduate Research Summer Program for giving me the wonderful
opportunity to do this research. We thank Dr. Floyd Shockley and Dr. David
Firth from the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History for
providing invaluable resources for the completion of this project. We thank
Brett Ratcliffe and Charlie Staines for their thoughtful comments and review
of the key.

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