Written Paper

Contribution of Tunneling Dung Beetles to Pasture Soil Nutrition  [2006]

Bertone, M.A. Green, J.T. Washburn, S.P. Poore, M.H. et al.

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The effect of dung beetle activity on soil nutrition was studied in three distinct soil types under laboratory conditions. Two tunneling dung beetles, Onthophagus gazella (Fabricius) and Onthophagus taurus (Schreber), were allowed to incorporate cattle dung, for brood production, into a piedmont Cecil clay soil, a coastal plain sandy-loam soil and commercially available play sand. Controlled treatments included soil alone and soil exposed to dung only. Soils were tested for primary nutrients (P and K), secondary nutrients (Ca and Mg), and micronutrients (Mn, Zn, and Cu), as well as other soil characteristics (pH, exchangeable acidity, etc.). Both O. gazella and O. taurus produced the most offspring in the piedmont clay soil; variable numbers of brood were produced in other soil types. Soils exposed to dung beetle activity were generally higher in nutrient content than both soils left untreated, and those that had been exposed to cattle dung only. In this manner, tunneling dung beetles can be considered vital to nutrient recycling and plant health in pasture systems.

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Forage and grazinglands

ISSN : 1547-4631