Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

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13 years 8 months ago #24675 by PeterNZ
I am developing slowly into the LSB revolutionary here I think. [8D] Anyway, to keep my reputation I have a question.

Couple of hundreds of years ago people thought it a great idea to introduce Possums to New Zealand. Then they introduced rabbits. And deer, goats and pigs.

Will we have a Dung Beetle Pest in the future? Is anyone looking at the risk? Can anyone even get an idea about the risk? Do we understand nature and the system that much that we can say this doesn't bear any risk?
www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/lets-rolld...ombat-global-warming

Cheers

Peter


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13 years 8 months ago #347977 by robbie88
Replied by robbie88 on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad
I guess one should also question the introduction of sheep, cows, cats, honey bees, pinus radiata, rainbow trout etc etc.

Rob

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13 years 8 months ago #347979 by reggit
Replied by reggit on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad
Peter, I have been involved for many years with biological control of weed species with the team that are also involved in the dung beetle research, and they also presented at a conference I recently attended.

I know from my work with them in the weeds field that any introductions of insects such as this are controlled under very tough legislation with lots of hoops to jump over before approval is given.

In any cases where research throws up doubts about impacts on NZ's environment, the projects are binned. Sometimes this is after years of research overseas or even far enough down the track that the insects are being tested in quarantine in NZ, so its certainly not a case of 'we've invested so much money to this point that we are going ahead regardless'. The scientists involved know that to risk any bad impacts, and the resulting loss of public faith in their programmes, would be a disaster and so they are very risk averse.

That's part of the reason horticulturalists complain that they can no longer introduce new plants willy nilly! [}:)] Because the restrictions on new imports are so tight.

It's not comparable to the pests we have here now, as these were brought to this country before any research was required, mostly by well meaning folk who didn't have anyone to restrain them - or, smuggled in illegally, such as varroa.

If anyone is interested in seeing the sorts of biological control agents that are already in NZ, check out Landcare Research's website. For many of the weed species I deal with that are now pretty much out of control, biological control is the only option left if there is hope of slowing these species (and their impacts down). The bio control agents won't kill their hosts, but they can incapacitate them, slow them down, and stop them reproducing...

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13 years 8 months ago #347983 by PeterNZ
Replied by PeterNZ on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

robbie88;337355 wrote: I guess one should also question the introduction of sheep, cows, cats, honey bees, pinus radiata, rainbow trout etc etc.

Oh yes, thank you. And how exactly is this an argument to introduce more? Like "Ahh well we stuffed up that much so lets not worry about more?"

We also migrated to these islands including all Maoris. So why not just shut up shop and leave to where we came from? [;)]

Cheers

Peter


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13 years 8 months ago #347988 by PeterNZ
Replied by PeterNZ on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

tigger;337357 wrote: Peter, I have been involved for many years with biological control of weed species with the team that are also involved in the dung beetle research, and they also presented at a conference I recently attended.

I know from my work with them in the weeds field that any introductions of insects such as this are controlled under very tough legislation with lots of hoops to jump over before approval is given.

In any cases where research throws up doubts about impacts on NZ's environment, the projects are binned. Sometimes this is after years of research overseas or even far enough down the track that the insects are being tested in quarantine in NZ, so its certainly not a case of 'we've invested so much money to this point that we are going ahead regardless'. The scientists involved know that to risk any bad impacts, and the resulting loss of public faith in their programmes, would be a disaster and so they are very risk averse.

That's part of the reason horticulturalists complain that they can no longer introduce new plants willy nilly! [}:)] Because the restrictions on new imports are so tight.

It's not comparable to the pests we have here now, as these were brought to this country before any research was required, mostly by well meaning folk who didn't have anyone to restrain them - or, smuggled in illegally, such as varroa.

If anyone is interested in seeing the sorts of biological control agents that are already in NZ, check out Landcare Research's website. For many of the weed species I deal with that are now pretty much out of control, biological control is the only option left if there is hope of slowing these species (and their impacts down). The bio control agents won't kill their hosts, but they can incapacitate them, slow them down, and stop them reproducing...

The thing is that this is now at a stage where ERMA asks for submissions. So once this process is done it is all go from there. I assume that the research has been done. I spoke to a couple of people involved in this and nobody could really answer the question e.g.
How fast will they breed?
What is the impact on native birds? A majority of native birds are honeyeaters, what will happen if the dung beetles take off, breed like rabbits and provide a food source to insect eating birds and other animals? Wouldn't this have an impact on the system?
Will they provide a food source for rats, weasels, stouts, ferrets and possum? What is the impact?

It just makes me nervous that we repeat a process again and again, admittedly with variations but it still comes down to introducing a foreign organism in a very fickle system. And I can't find any research which shows that someone looked at the risks and how they are mitigated.

Cheers

Peter


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13 years 8 months ago #347990 by reggit
Replied by reggit on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad
Peter, if you go to www.ermanz.govt.nz/news-events/archives/...010/mr-20100922.html there are links to all the research/documentation as part of the application.

There is enough bedtime reading there to keep you occupied for some time! [;)]

Who did you contact about this, someone at ERMA or someone at Landcare?

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13 years 8 months ago #347995 by PeterNZ
Replied by PeterNZ on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

tigger;337368 wrote: Peter, if you go to www.ermanz.govt.nz/news-events/archives/...010/mr-20100922.html there are links to all the research/documentation as part of the application.

There is enough bedtime reading there to keep you occupied for some time! [;)]

Who did you contact about this, someone at ERMA or someone at Landcare?

I was talking to members of a group in Warkworth who were part of a project group. Don't ask me if they belonged to landcorp. They worked in or with the Dung Beetle project and they are also very involved in Organics and sustainablity etc.

I didn't clicked through on the ERMA webpage, thanks for this. I will have a good read about it.

Cheers

Peter


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13 years 8 months ago #347997 by reggit
Replied by reggit on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

PeterNZ;337373 wrote: I was talking to members of a group in Warkworth who were part of a project group. Don't ask me if they belonged to landcorp. They worked in or with the Dung Beetle project and they are also very involved in Organics and sustainablity etc.

I didn't clicked through on the ERMA webpage, thanks for this. I will have a good read about it.

Cheers

Peter


If you have questions about the research, the Landcare scientists are very approachable...and the great thing is they can actually speak 'human' rather than 'scientist' too! [}:)]

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13 years 8 months ago #347998 by Organix
Replied by Organix on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

ERMA Dung Beetles wrote: ....The application states the benefits of dung beetle activity include improved soil health, improved water infiltration, and reduced nutrient runoff and waterway pollution. It also says greenhouse gas emissions from dung will be reduced.....

Has anybody considered that those benefits could be gained by adoption of genuine organic husbandry of soil, especially so in regard to greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient runoff if urea application is discontinued :rolleyes:

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13 years 8 months ago #348003 by stephclark
eemm shal i mention the cane toads?.. intriduced as a biological control for some beetle that was eating the sugar canes..now look at them...

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13 years 8 months ago #348007 by PeterNZ
Replied by PeterNZ on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad
Things which make me nervous are (from the documentation):

The establishment of dung beetles would be permanent and irreversible. It is very unlikely that once established that an eradication could be achieved.

This alone would be a point of great worry to me!

Buried dung beetle larvae and adults in tunnels and fresh dung are not susceptible to generalist natural enemies and are unlikely to be attacked by New Zealand parasitoids, diseases and opportunist predators in pasture (kiwi, rats, mice).

Buried - ok, but what when they are happily rolling shit on the surface?

None of the species of dung beetle proposed for introduction are related to any native species. No interbreeding is possible. Habitat isolation will also preclude significant interactions between introduced and native dung beetles

I hope the beetles were informed and stick to it! [;)] So here they talk about "habitat isolation" and further above

Native and introduced dung beetle populations are not expected to overlap except at some forest margins

I couldn't find any more answers to my questions so I contacted landcare (thanks tigger) I'll keep you posted.

Cheers

Peter


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13 years 8 months ago #348017 by Aria
Replied by Aria on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad
Exactly Organix!

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13 years 8 months ago #348018 by reggit
Replied by reggit on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

stephclark;337381 wrote: eemm shal i mention the cane toads?.. intriduced as a biological control for some beetle that was eating the sugar canes..now look at them...


Cane toads were introduced into Aussie in the 1930s, and in those days, there was no controls on introductions. If someone (often a politician) thought it was a good idea, it would just happen.

Hence rabbits, then stoats, then heather and grouse, and so on, and so on.

Things have moved on somewhat since then with requirements before new species can be imported and released! [}:)]

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13 years 8 months ago #348037 by sod
Replied by sod on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad
Mankind is the biggest and baddest one of all IMHO

Having time is a measure of enthusiasm:rolleyes:

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13 years 8 months ago #348039 by reggit
Replied by reggit on topic Dung Beetles - Good or Bad

sod;337422 wrote: Mankind is the biggest and baddest one of all IMHO


Pest? Yeah, well that goes without saying, sod. If someone had done a risk assessment on the human race as far as impacts go, we'd never have made it out of the testtube! [}:)][}:)][}:)] :D

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