Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



The Nimba Mountain Range in Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Liberia is within the Upper Guinean Forests, a critical biodiversity hotspot highly threatened by various human activities. The region is home to many endemic species including the viviparous Nimba toad, Nimba otter-shrew, and the discrete Bossou chimpanzee population. Dung beetles can act as a focal taxon from which extrapolation to the diversity of other taxa and ecosystem health can be made. Elevational trends in dung beetle diversity were investigated on the Nimba Mountain Range and in the nearby Bossou Chimpanzee reserve in Guinea. Dung beetle species diversity surveys aimed to document the dung beetle species diversity of the area, investigate elevational trends in diversity, and assess the biotic integrity of this unique ecosystem and World Heritage Site. Conventional dung baited pitfall traps were set at selected sites along an elevational gradient in the Bossou Chimpanzee Preserve and the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Preserve. Evidence did not reveal a strong trend in lower diversity at higher elevations. Comparatively lower diversity than what was expected at low elevations potentially reflect a declining ecosystem due to declining mammal populations brought on by bush meat hunting and deforestation pressures. Ecosystem preservation will require protection from human activities and viable alternatives to bush meat hunting.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Keith Philips, Ph.D.


Biology | Entomology | Zoology