There’s a flurry of activity going on BELOW the fynbos plants on Flower Valley Farm. And much of this action is being driven by the humble dung beetle.
Following a recent study on Flower Valley Farm, it was found that SEVEN different species of dung beetles occur here. And while they may frequent the indigenous Stinkhoutsbos Forest, the study found they prefer the fynbos-covered slopes on the farm, in particular the Critically Endangered Overberg Sandstone Fynbos and the Vulnerable Agulhas Limestone Fynbos.
The greatest diversity of species was also found in these two habitats.
HERE’S HOW THE DATA WAS COLLECTED
The research team, led by Roger Bailey (Flower Valley’s Acting Executive Director) set up pitfall traps, using cow manure to lure the beetles. These were checked regularly. And the dung beetles caught were identified before being released back into the surrounding area.
Seven different species were identified, including:
Circellium bacchus (Flightless dung beetle)
Catharius tricornutus (Three-horned dung beetle)
Histeridae species (Steel beetle)
(The final beetle could not be identified).
WHY DOES THIS MATTER? WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Because dung beetles play SUCH an important role in fynbos.
• When they bury dung, they help maintain soil health.
• They facilitate dung-seed dispersal.
• They also help keep fly numbers down by removing the dung.
Even more importantly, they’re an indicator species: their presence helps us evaluate the impacts of human activities on habitats.
BUT DUNG BEETLES FACE SEVERE THREATS:
In fact, a recent global study found dramatic rates of declines that could lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species. Dung beetles appear to be the hardest hit. Urbanisation, loss of habitat, insecticides and pesticide residue in dung are among some of the threats.
On Flower Valley Farm, we protect our dung beetles, and the habitat they live in.