Hey insect world! I apologize for the long delay in responses to your messages and lack of posting over the last three weeks. I’m back however, and want to share my new knowledge with you!
While in Gorongosa National Park, I participated in a biodiversity teaching survey in a remote region called Coutada 12. During this survey, I was able to learn about many taxonomic groups as well as create a project around my most favorite taxonomic group, insects! My project objective was to study and observe the species richness of dung beetles (subfamily: Scarabaeinae) within three different habitats in the region. Through different sampling methods, such as pitfall traps and dung use, I was able to capture and study around 28 different species of dung beetles!! Here are a few of the different species I found during my collection (Catharsius sp., Sisyphus sp.). Recognize any of them? But why study dung beetles? Well first, they are natural recyclers. They help to aerate and mix soil, and by burying dung, they provide liable forms of nitrogen to the soil. This in turn provides food and fertilizer to plants! They also are biological and environmental indicators. Because some dung beetles specialize in mammal feces, amongst other things, such as fruits and fungi, if you are able to identify and quantity a certain dung beetle in an area, you can conclude that specific mammals also thrive in that same habitat. Lastly, they are extremely important in pasture ecology and determining pesticide toxicity levels. When the recommended dosage of toxicides are given to cattle, for example, dung beetles can effectively decompose the dung and prevent ticks and disease vector insects, aka flies, from overrunning and compromising pasture health. So, the next time you walk outside and don’t step in feces, thank the dung beetles! They rock and they roll. But literally.. .
Looking forward to sharing some of your photos you’ve sent me from all over the world and continuing to share more about the importance of insects!!