A bunch of newly emerged O. vacca were the stars of the show at the annual dung beetle workshop in September. Over 50 dung beetle enthusiasts and DBEE team members gathered for the official opening of the dung beetle mass rearing centre and to hear about the project’s successes of the past 12 months.
The mass rearing team at CSU showed off their skills in sorting out brood balls from the rearing jars and other dung beetle rearing tricks.
Dr Valerie Caron announced that CSIRO has applied for a permit to import the next dung beetle species from France, where they are currently undergoing mass rearing. Russ Barrow gave a rundown on how the dung beetle monitoring program has been set up around southern Australia and how users can get involved using the MyDungBeetle Reporter app. Dr Bernard Doube has setting up field rearing pilot sites and releasing 5000 French O. vacca and is preparing for the release of 15 000 more this summer along with several thousand Moroccan O. vacca.
Prof Leslie Weston gave an update on the recent activities of the DBEE communications and information delivery team. Along with the release of the MyDungBeetle Reporter app developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in Western Australia, work is nearly complete on the dung beetle database, which allows anyone to search for dung beetles have that been found in their area. Dr Paul Weston says that the data coming in via the MyDungBeetle Reporter app is interesting as ‘we are seeing beetles active when they are traditionally not active’. As data is added to the database we will learn more about dung beetle distributions and how these have changed over time.
The new dung beetle field identification book is in its final editing stages and should be available soon. The media have also shown a strong interest in the project with a variety of radio, newspaper and television interviews spreading the word about the benefits of dung beetles.
The competition for who travelled the furthest to get to Wagga was a close call between Dr Theo Evans from Perth and Dr Simon Fowler from Lincoln, New Zealand. The University of Western Australia and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research New Zealand are both working on ‘how good are dung beetles’ and showed the workshop group many examples of the significance of dung beetles in our ecosystems. More on the ecosystem services that dung beetles will provide will be covered in the next newsletter.