Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A review of dung beetle introductions in the antipodes and North America: status, opportunities, and challenges.

Abstract

Following the introduction of cattle, exotic dung beetles (Coleoptera: Aphodiidae, Geotrupidae, Scarabaeidae) were imported into the Antipodes (Australia and New Zealand) and North America (primarily the United States) to accelerate the degradation of cattle dung on pastures. The history of dung beetle introductions between the two regions is similar but has not previously been assessed: this is important as new introductions are continuing in the regions. Here, we review these introduction programs, report on their current status, and discuss methodological advances. In doing so, we examine the accidental introduction of exotic (i.e., adventive) species and the contribution of both deliberately introduced and adventive species to endemic dung beetle faunas. Further, we provide a list of pest and parasite species whose populations can be reduced by dung beetle activity. We also identify a combined total of 37 introduced and 47 adventive dung beetle species that have become established in the Antipodes and North America, with exotic species dominating dung beetle assemblages from pasture habitats. Climatic and edaphic matches, the size of founding populations, abiotic and biotic stressors, and the time of year when releases are made are all critical determinants that affect the success of dung beetle introduction programs. Finally, we discuss opportunities, plus the risks and challenges associated with dung beetle introductions. We hope that this review will aid in the success of future introduction programs, either to enhance ecosystem services in areas that they are needed, or potentially to reestablish native species in regions where they have been extirpated.