We’re all familiar with the traditional image of a dung beetle. Supporting itself on its front legs, the beetle perches its hind legs on a perfectly round ball of dung and pushes its prized possession away from the main deposit, sometimes rolling its mate atop the ball.
Here in southeast Peru, there are more than 200 known species of dung beetle – and Laura Allen has been busy collecting many of them.
As part of her research, Laura, a PhD student from the University of Glasgow, has been conducting dung beetle surveys from the Manu Learning Centre in the Peruvian Amazon.
With the help of her Crees Foundation co-workers and volunteers, Laura has spent the last two months collecting dung beetles at different sites within the Manu Biosphere Reserve, ranging from selectively logged and now regenerating forest to agricultural areas, as she looks at whether or not dung beetle abundance, species richness, and community structure change across a gradient.
By comparing dung beetle communities in these different forest types, Laura is hoping to be able to determine what value these areas have for conservation and how well their forests are functioning.
So, what exactly goes into a dung beetle survey? And, of all of the animals in the Amazon to use as an indicator of forest health, why the dung beetle?
In this film, Laura explains how she has been conducting her research in the jungle and just why this small invertebrate is both fascinating and essential to ecosystem function:
Video, photos & text by Katie Lin