Abstract

Bess beetles are important components on tropical forest dead wood nutrient cycling, since they act as direct consumers and ease the consumption by another organism (indirect). Studies of bess beetle ecology are scarce and have focused on communities responses to environmental changes on alimentary resources. We characterized the bess beetles guild composition in an elevation gradient, according to their differential use of resources (microhabitat) and morphological traits quantification (geometric and lineal), as a potential tool to improve our understanding on resource use and functional ecology of beetles. Three guilds (underbark, sapwood-heartwood and generalists feeders), five species and 198 familiar groups were recognized; their richness decreased as elevation increased. Changes in linear morphometric measures were influenced by elevation; morphogeometrical measures were not associated with the elevation gradient, only grouping at guild level were observed. Morphological markers analysis (morphometric) provided information to guild delimitation. Body and metatibiae shape contributed with the best information to guild grouping. Quantification of those structural markers proved the relationship between resource repartition, because they are involved in movement on wood galleries and wood consumption, this fact allowed to propose specific functional roles. The identified patterns have contributed on the understanding of functional processes in Passalidae communities and their role in ecosystem function.

Keywords: Functional ecology, guild, geometric morphometric, Passalidae