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Dung Beetle Research Helps Predict Human Impacts on Ecological Communities

Dung BeetleA desire to understand the patterns and processes that determine the distribution of species and to use this information to predict impacts of anthropogenic change on species and ecological communities is what motivates Kimberly Sheldon’s research.

“I work primarily with dung beetles, a fascinating group that use dung as a food resource and for breeding purposes,” says Sheldon, a new assistant professor in the department. “By integrating the fields of ecology, physiology, and evolution, I have shown that dung beetles in the tropics have a narrower range of temperatures they can handle compared to dung beetles in temperate areas, which makes the tropical species more vulnerable to temperature change.”

Sheldon is excited to join the department because of the breadth and depth of research being conducted by EEB faculty and students and the opportunities for collaborative research. She has received a warm welcome from members of the EEB administration, as well as staff in the college and university. Additionally, she is impressed with the number of bright, highly motived undergraduate students in the EEB program.

“For an ecologist like myself, the Smokies offer exceptional biological diversity – including several species of dung beetle – close to home,” says Sheldon. “I am also excited for football season and the energy it brings to campus! Go Vols!”