On the road with Russ

Establishment of DBEE’s 120 dung beetle monitoring sites is well underway. Russ Barrow and Graeme Heath have been travelling around delivering monitoring kits and training stakeholders in monitoring protocols and using the MyDungBeetle Reporter app. With a stop approximately every 50 km to set up a pitfall trap, these road trips can stretch out, but give us a great look at what’s happening with dung beetle activity in different areas.

Armidale, NSW

Monitoring kits were delivered to the DBEE team at the University of New England, Armidale. Zac Hemmings and Behnaz Ghaedi will set up monitoring sites around the northern tablelands. Zac and Behnaz are part of the insect ecology team at UNE conducting research on dung beetles, ecosystem services and climate change.

The team also joined up with the Upper Mooki Landcare Group at Warrah Creek to talk dung beetles. The group will be operating a monitoring site for the DBEE project and are keen to get some local schools involved in dung beetles.

During the return trip from Armidale to Mudgee the pitfall traps yielded several species of beetles that have been tentatively identified as belonging to the genera Sisyphus, Euoniticellus, and Onitis.

Zac Hemmings, Graeme Heath and Behnaz Ghaedi at UNE taking delivery of the dung beetle field monitoring kits

Zac Hemmings, Graeme Heath and Behnaz Ghaedi at UNE taking delivery of the dung beetle field monitoring kits

Russ Barrow and members of the Upper Mooki Landcare Group

Russ Barrow and members of the Upper Mooki Landcare Group

Bairnsdale, Victoria

The Southern Farming Systems (SFS) group have joined the DBEE project to assist with monitoring dung beetles across Victoria and Tasmania. Russ and Graeme travelled to Bairnsdale, Victoria and met up with Natalie Jenkins and Ashley Amourgis from SFS to demonstrate site selection and the monitoring protocols. Russ delivered 27 beetle monitoring kits to SFS and together the team assembled the kits and ran through the MyDungBeetle Reporter app. The group finished the day by setting up some pitfall traps in the field and making their first reports via the app.

On their way to Bairnsdale, Russ and Graeme set up 9 pitfall traps but on their return journey were surprised to find that they had not trapped a single introduced beetle. Some native dung beetles were found, with identification of those still pending. On closer investigations around some fields, there was some tunnelling activity around dung pads prompting excavation of a few holes to a depth of around 50 cm.  Despite this no beetles were recovered, although it was thought Geotrupes spiniger may have been responsible for the large-diameter, deep tunnels.

Ashley Amourgis, Graeme Heath and Russ Barrow with a dung beetle pitfall trap.

Ashley Amourgis, Graeme Heath and Russ Barrow with a dung beetle pitfall trap.

Natalie Jenkins, Graeme Heath and Ashley Amourgis and components of the field monitoring kits

Natalie Jenkins, Graeme Heath and Ashley Amourgis and components of the field monitoring kits

Monitoring sites across Australia. Red stars are intensive monitoring sites that will be regularly monitored over the next 12-24 months. Yellow stars are less intensive monitoring sites including reports made via the MyDungBeetle Reporter app.

Monitoring sites across Australia. Red stars are intensive monitoring sites that will be regularly monitored over the next 12-24 months. Yellow stars are less intensive monitoring sites including reports made via the MyDungBeetle Reporter app.

Liam O'Neill