On Friday morning (1st June), Landcare Tasmania joined Clarendon Vale Primary School and Bayview Secondary College to launch a breeding centre for dung beetles, funded by Landcare Tasmania's Tasmanian Landcare Fund and the John Roberts Trust.
Why dung beetles? They are very helpful to the soil ecosystem - they improve the health of soils and pastures, and reduce nutrient run-off to streams. Students are breeding dung beetles and introducing the colonies onto a southern Tasmanian farm in Levendale to establish viable populations, which in the future can be introduced to other farms across southern Tasmania.
The grant allows students from Clarendon Vale Primary School to build the breeding cages, monitor temperature and beetle numbers, and continue feeding and caring for the dung beetles.
Dung Beetle Project Coordinator Andrew Doube said the project would engage students across a range of STEM subjects including maths, IT, agriculture and soil sciences: “Students will build the breeding centre, and monitor temperature and beetle numbers – and there are lots of beetles and lots of dung!”.
Arabella, from Clarendon Vale Primary School is very excited about the project. She helped build the breeding cages and is part of the team that is will be feeding and caring for the beetles. She says three things she likes about the beetles are:
“One they play dead when you hold them in your hand, two they eat poo and roll balls out of the poo, three females do not have horns but boys do.”
Clarendon Vale Primary School is one of more than 200 community groups that are supported by Landcare Tasmania.
A separate team from Bayview Secondary College is making and programming some mini computers that will record the soil and air temperate and moisture every six hours. This will provide an opportunity to learn more about the beetles, and how to breed them more effectively in the future. Additionally, a team of students from the Bayview Secondary College Year 7 maths class are building a spreadsheet to record all the information they collect.
The project was also covered by Southern Cross New. See below:
And the beetle sifting in action: