Dung beetle mon­i­tors play key role in na­tional plan

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - News -

THE War­ren Catch­ments Coun­cil will co­or­di­nate the South West WA com­po­nent of a na­tion-wide dung beetle re­search project af­ter its beetle mon­i­tor­ing en­cour­aged the de­vel­op­ment of the new na­tional project.

Last Wed­nes­day, dung bee­tles were cel­e­brated as the “un­sung he­roes of live­stock pro­duc­tion” when farm­ers and guests gath­ered to re­view and cel­e­brate the find­ings of mon­i­tor­ing.

Dung bee­tles have long been known to im­prove pas­tures and cat­tle health by break­ing down live­stock ma­nures and help­ing to build soil fer­til­ity as well as elim­i­nate breed­ing grounds for harm­ful par­a­sites and flies.

Coun­cil project of­fi­cer Kathy Daw­son said the track­ing of beetle pop­u­la­tions, be­hav­iours, life cy­cles and pres­ence on cat­tle prop­er­ties be­tween Boyup Brook and Walpole had con­trib­uted valu­able information. She said the mon­i­tor­ing project had helped un­der­stand the gaps in dung beetle pres­ence, when bee­tles were in­ac­tive due to species-spe­cific life cy­cles and be­hav­iours.

“At dif­fer­ent times of their life cy­cle bee­tles will be­have dif­fer­ently,” Mrs Daw­son said.

“The most im­por­tant thing is iden­ti­fy­ing where the gaps are, that’s been the im­pe­tus for de­vel­op­ing this new na­tional pro­gram.”

A key out­put of the project was the suc­cess­ful in­tro­duc­tion, set­tling and breed­ing of an au­tum­n­ac­tive beetle species to the re­gion, and Mrs Daw­son said the a springac­tive species could be re­leased in the near fu­ture.

Dung beetle re­search will con­tinue across Aus­tralia as part of the new project which is set to in­clude a com­po­nent to build farm­ers’ ca­pac­ity to help dung bee­tles thrive on their prop­er­ties.

Pic­ture: Shan­non Boch­enek

Doreen Owens, who has had dung bee­tles on her fam­ily's dairy farm since the 1970s, join War­ren Catch­ments Coun­cil project of­fi­cer Kathy Daw­son and Andy Muir, who has a beetle mon­i­tor­ing site on his beef farm east of Man­jimup, to cel­e­brate dung bee­tles at Wed­nes­day's meet­ing.

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