Dung beetles provide crucial ecosystem services and serve as model organisms for various behavioural, ecological and evolutionary studies. However, dung beetles have received little attention as consumers of large cadavers. In this study, we trapped copronecrophagous dung beetles on above-ground exposed piglet cadavers in 61 forest plots distributed over three geographically distinct regions in Germany, Central Europe. We examined the effects of land use intensity, forest stand, soil characteristics, vascular plant diversity and climatic conditions on dung beetle abundance, species richness and diversity. In all three regions, dung beetles, represented mainly by the geotrupid species Anoplotrupes stercorosus and Trypocopris vernalis, were attracted to the cadavers. High beetle abundance was associated with higher mean ambient temperature. Furthermore, A. stercorosus and T. vernalis were more abundant in areas where soil contained higher proportions of fine sand. Additionally, an increased proportion of forest understorey vegetation and vascular plant diversity positively affected the species richness and diversity of dung beetles. Thus, even in warm dry monocultured forest stands exploited for timber, we found thriving dung beetle populations when a diverse understorey was present. Therefore, forestry practices that preserve the understorey can sustain stable dung beetle populations and ensure their important contribution to nutrient cycles.