Dung beetles are vitally important insects which improve the quality and structure of soil, reduce parasite burdens in livestock and provide a variety of other crucial services within agricultural landscapes. But they are struggling, as changes to agricultural practices and intensification have had significant impacts on a wide range of species, including dung beetles.
The loss of pasture to development and arable, alongside the removal of grazing livestock, has reduced the availability of dung causing habitat fragmentation and greatly reduced the nourishment obtainable for dung beetles. Permanent pasture habitats have decreased with rotational grassland and short-term leys replacing them, which require fertilisers and soils disturbance - both of which are detrimental to the dung beetles’ lifecycle. Also, the use of certain parasite treatments are linked with reduced abundance, diversity and functioning of dung beetles    putting further pressure on this key ecosystem species. In the UK there are 60 species of dung beetle, approximately 50% of which are nationally scarce or listed as threatened to some degree .
Dung Beetles for Farmers is a resource which aims to help farmers, landowners, veterinarians, entomologists and many others to gain a better understanding of how they can conserve dung beetles and reap the benefits from the services they provide. We will strive to provide evidence-based information on how different management decisions impact dung beetles and hope to develop a greater awareness of their importance in pasture management and the general diversity of the ecosystem.
- Increase the awareness of how important dung beetles are.
- Create an accessible and pragmatic, evidence-based resource relating to how management decisions impact dung beetles.
"To improve the conservation status of dung beetles by providing pragmatic, evidence-based information to land and livestock managers."
This resource has been put together by dung beetle experts and farmers including entomologists, a large scale dairy farmer and a large animal vet; two of whom were awarded Nuffield Scholarships that will look at the importance of dung beetles. Meet the team here...
We have had a lot of interest from horse owners asking what they can do to help dung beetles. We are working with a horse vet specialist to bring some specific information for horse owners to the website soon.
Some early research has been looking at the effects of other antiparasitic products including fly treatments and flukicides on dung fauna and ecosystems that rely on such fauna. At this point, the research is in its early stages, but we hope to bring you more on this as the story unfolds and provide you with more information about the sustainable use of all antiparasitics.
- Finch, D., Schofield, H., Floate, K. D., Kubasiewicz, L. M. & Mathews, F. 2020. Implications of Endectocide Residues on the Survival of Aphodiine Dung Beetles: A Meta-Analysis. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 39, 863-872.
- Manning, P., Slad, E. M., Benyon, S. A. & Lewis, O. T. 2017. Effect of dung beetle species richness and chemical perturbation on multiple ecosystem functions. Ecological Entomology, 42, 577-586.
- Sands, B. & Wall, R. 2018. Sustained parasiticide use in cattle farming affects dung beetle functional assemblages. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 265, 226-235.
- Lane, S. A. & Mann, D. J. 2016. A review of the status of the beetles of Great Britain: The stag beetles, dor beetles, dung beetles, chafers and their allies-Lucanidae, Geotrupidae, Trogidae and Scarabaeidae , Natural England.