Dung beetle monitors play key role in national plan

Shannon BochenekManjimup-Bridgetown Times

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.

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“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 autumn-active beetle species to the region, and Mrs Dawson said the a spring-active 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.

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