I Brake For Dung Beetles...
I Brake for Dung Beetles! from The WILD Foundation on Vimeo.
I found this video at Beetles In The Bush There is also a picture of a great bumper sticker, (probably a fund raiser) from The Wild Foundation
[Here at The WILD Foundation, we realize that it is not just those large, charismatic animals that inspire conservation - it is often the small, typically unnoticed and vastly under-appreciated ones that inspire us the most….and that are an indispensible part of the ecosystem!]
A few years ago on a camping trip in the Appalachian mountains the Mr and I came across a couple of dung beetles trying to roll bear dung off the gravel road with the same results as in this video. It was so funny. Had I been carrying a camera with video options we would have a north american version.
The sacred scarab of the ancient Egyptians, Scarabaeus sacer, which inhabits North Africa, southern Europe and Asia, is often the only species of dung beetle that many people know about. We too often overlook the sizeable dung beetle faunas that inhabits our own continents. Indeed, a little observation in the natural habitats of almost any region of the world will reveal several intriguing species of diverse appearances and behaviors .
The Scarabaeinae, one of the two subfamilies of dung-rolling beetles (the other being the Aphodiinae), comprises about 4500 known species of worldwide distribution, occurring wherever excrement or nutrient-rich substrates are available.
About 75 species of Scarabaeinae occur in North America (Borror et al., 422; Ratcliffe 95).
Scarabaeine diversity is concentrated in the tropics: for example, while the most scarab-rich site in New York State might have close to 10 species, single sites in the tropics can have nearly 100 species. Most species feed on mammal dung, while smaller proportions feed on carrion or vegetable matter, or are even carnivorous.
Dung beetles, together with their saprophagous (decay-feeding) relatives, are ecologically important degraders and re-distributors of nutrients
The study examined the fate of dung beetles, which collect dung, bury it,snack on it, and lay their eggs in it. Burying the seed-laden dung also enriches the soil and helps plants regenerate. Trond Larsen, a graduate student at Princeton University, found that the beetle species best at burying dung were the first to disappear from forest fragments. Alarmingly, related species did not become more abundant. Much dung then went unburied.
Larsen says: “Even the loss of just one or two species may have a much greater impact than we previously thought.” Like top carnivores, the large dung beetles appear to be the most sensitive to extinction and extremely important for ecosystem integrity,he adds. Moreover, it’s surprisingly hard for others to fill their shoes, Ostfeld says: “I wouldn’t have expected to see this effect with a dung beetle.”