Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers

Researchers

Summary

We’re leading a national project supported by MLA with funding from the Rural R&D for Profit program to expand the numbers of dung beetle species in Australia, improve their distribution and quantify the environmental and economic benefits.

Aim

Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers (DBEE) builds on previous research and will fill seasonal and geographical gaps in the distribution of beetles across southern Australia by introducing new dung beetle species and expanding the distribution of existing species.

Dung beetles provide many benefits for livestock producers including:

  • Improving soil in grazing systems
  • Reducing the spread of diseases and insect pests, such as bush flies
  • Increasing pasture health
  • Reducing nutrient run-off into waterways

What's involved

Charles Sturt University, through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, is mass rearing dung beetles specifically chosen to fill seasonal and geographical gaps in the distribution of beetles across southern Australia.

In 2019, Onthophagus vacca, beetle species imported from Morocco, was the first to ‘graduate’ from Charles Sturt’s new breeding facilities and into the pipeline for release onto dozens of livestock properties across southern Australia.

Two more spring-active dung beetle species are set to be imported as part of the DBEE project.

Nation-wide monitoring surveys and ecosystem research activities are also underway to find out more about existing communities of dung beetles, the climates and soil types they prefer and identify gaps that can be filled by new species.

Our researchers have recently established over 100 intensive monitoring sites and trained project partners in surveillance protocols.

A dung beetle database has been compiled and the team is currently developing educational tools and resources to make it easier for livestock producers to identify beetles and access information on dung beetles.

Read more on the DBEE website

Support by

The project supported by Meat & Livestock Australia through funding from the Australian Government’s Rural R&D for Profit program.