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Dung Decomposition

Factors affecting dung decomposition in agricultural systems

Dung beetles are important agents of dung decomposition in temperate pastures. Their activity can contribute significant services to agricultural ecosystems through enhanced potential utilisation of pasture area, reducing fouling of pasture by dung, and promoting nutrient recycling within pastures.

For some time, ivermectin has been implicated in the decline of dung beetles ,and there have been mixed conclusions from experimental investigations of the ecotoxicological effects of ivermectin.

In addition, recent research suggests that greater diversity of organisms can result in greater levels of ecological processes. There has been relatively little testing of this principle in decomposition studies.

This project investigated:

  • impacts of ivermectin on different stages of the life cycle of dung beetles;
  • role of beetle diversity and impact of ivermectin on dung decomposition rates.

For further information, contact Dr John Finn john.finn(at)teagasc.ie

Further reading

O’Hea, N., Kirwan, L. and Finn, J.A. 2010. Experimental mixtures of dung fauna affect dung decomposition through complex effects of species interactions. Oikos 119: 1081–1088.

O’Hea, N., Kirwan, L., Giller, P.S. and Finn, J.A. 2010. Lethal and sub-lethal effects of ivermectin on north temperate dung beetles, Aphodius ater and Aphodius rufipes (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). Insect Conservation and Diversity 3: 24–33.