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For evolutionary biologist Erin McCullough, the mating rituals of dung beetles are not only fascinating, but also can provide a window into understanding how climate change might affect biodiversity.

Climate change has led to species expansion, but McCullough says there’s still a lot to learn about why some species are expanding and others aren’t — and the role sexual selection plays in that process.

“A lot of biology is about sex and death,” she says. “That’s really what matters.”

McCullough and her two students — Syd Kochensparger ’25 and Bea Altopp ’25 — are currently studying several species of dung beetles collected in the @clarkhadwenarboretum to understand if and how they court and fight.

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