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 (Journal of Biogeography, Vol. 19, No. 2) 19 (2): 205–215. doi:10.2307/2845506. JSTOR 2845506. 
  5. ^ a b Burger, B. V.; W. G. B. Petersen1, W. G. Weber1 and Z. M. Munro (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 (Springer) 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 (Sage) 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 (Wiley) 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 (Nature Publishing Group) 204 (4958): 564–566. doi:10.1038/204564a0.