Monitoring and surveillance of dung beetles requires a lot of time on the road for Charles Sturt’s Russ Barrow and Graeme Heath. As the seasons change new beetles have been getting busy but the numbers can vary a lot between traps, even on the same site.
At the September dung beetle workshop, Russ gave a run-down on the organisation of the monitoring and surveillance plan for DBEE. ‘The number of livestock in each region is a major influence on where where the surveillance is being conducted’ Russ explained. Using information from Meat and Livestock Australia about cattle numbers in different regions, intensive trapping is being established with project partners and volunteer producers helping out. Russ and Graeme also conduct less intensive monitoring on most trips using transects with a trap every 30–70 km. The workshop was also a productive day for the monitoring program, with several participants volunteering to do some trapping.
The transect monitoring showed that Bubas bison was still active around central Victoria late into spring while other beetles active at this time were Onthophagus taurus, O. australis and Euoniticellus spp. (predominately E. fulvus but potentially others).
In September the focus of monitoring was central northern Victoria. The team joined up with Bernard and Loene Doube to set up some Farmer Nursery trials. Russ and Graeme put their flat-pack assembly skills to work, under the watchful eye of Bernard, building and setting up several nurseries. The Mitta Valley Landcare Group also ran a field day over the weekend, hosted at the property of Judy and Alec Cardwell, with around 30 producers in attendance. During the day, Belinda Pearce spoke about the Kiewa Catchment Landcare work with dung beetles. Producers took a walk to check for dung beetle activity and were able to excavate some tunnels made by dung beetles. Then it was all hands-on deck to help set up a nursery, where O. vacca were released. It was a successful day with outstanding interest and involvement from the community.
At the October AgriFocus field day at Inverleigh, Victoria, there was abundant interest in a DBEE dung beetle display and seminars. Over 100 people spent time hearing about dung beetles and activities across the DBEE project’s study regions.
In November the Central Tablelands Landcare group held a symposium on ‘Supporting wildlife through summer’. Russ delivered an entertaining and interactive presentation on ‘Managing our mini livestock’. Some monitoring kits were delivered and discussions with various producers converted some new dung beetle enthusiasts. Out at Molong the next day Landcare members came along to examine the dung beetle farmer nursery and learnt about monitoring beetles including site selection, how to set up a monitoring site and reporting dung beetle finds using the MyDungBeetle Reporter app.
Around the Central Tablelands each trap revealed some dung beetles, although numbers were not high, peaking at around 10. Introduced species recognised included Onthophagus binodis and E. fulvus, while the native beetle O. australis was also present.