Dung midden

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Dung middens, also known as dung hills,[1] are piles of dung that mammals periodically return to and build up.[2] They are used as a form of territorial marker. A range of animals are known to use them including steenbok,[3] hyrax[4] (the dung beetle genus Dicranocara of the Richtersveld in South western Africa spends its whole lifecycle in close association with hyrax dung middens) and rhinoceros.[5] Other animals such as beetles are attracted to them for a variety of purposes. This can include food as well as a location to find a mate.[5] Dung often contains pollen which means fossilised dung middens can be used to learn about past climates.[6][7][8] Paleobotany relies on the fact that each ecosystem is characterised by certain plants, which in turn act as a proxy for climate.[9]


  1. ^ The New Encyclopaedia of Mammals D MacDonald 2002 Oxford ISBN 0-19-850823-9
  2. ^ Payne, Ben. "Glossary". Retrieved 2007-06-15. Dung midden : Pile of droppings that grows through consistent returns. Used as a territory marker in connection with scent-marking. 
  3. ^ Cohen, Michael. 1976. The Steenbok: A neglected species. Custos (April 1976): 23–26.
  4. ^ Scott, L.; B. Cooremans (1992). "Pollen in Recent Procavia (Hyrax), Petromus (Dassie Rat) and Bird Dung in South Africa". Journal of Biogeography 19 (2): 205–215. doi:10.2307/2845506. JSTOR 2845506. 
  5. ^ a b Burger, B. V.; Petersen, W. G. B.; Weber, W. G.; Munro, Z. M. (2002). "Semiochemicals of the Scarabaeinae. VII: Identification and Synthesis of EAD-Active Constituents of Abdominal Sex Attracting Secretion of the Male Dung Beetle, Kheper subaeneus". Journal of Chemical Ecology 28 (12): 2527–2539. doi:10.1023/A:1021440220329. PMID 12564798. 
  6. ^ Scott, L.; J. C. Vogel (1992). "Short-term changes of climate and vegetation revealed by pollen analysis of hyrax dung in South Africa". Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 74 (3–4): 283–291. doi:10.1016/0034-6667(92)90012-6. 
  7. ^ Gil-Romera, Graciela; Louis Scott; Eugène Marais; George A. Brook (2006). "Middle-to late-Holocene moisture changes in the desert of northwest Namibia derived from fossil hyrax dung pollen". The Holocene 16 (8): 1073–1084. doi:10.1177/0959683606069397. 
  8. ^ Carrión, Jose S.; Louis Scott; John C. Vogel (1999). "Twentieth century changes in montane vegetation in the eastern Free State, South Africa, derived from palynology of hyrax dung middens". Journal of Quaternary Science 14 (1): 1–16. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1417(199902)14:1<1::AID-JQS412>3.0.CO;2-Y. 
  9. ^ Coetzee, J. A. (November 7, 1964). "Evidence for a Considerable Depression of the Vegetation Belts during the Upper Pleistocene on the East African Mountains". Nature 204 (4958): 564–566. doi:10.1038/204564a0.