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How a Manure-Eating Beetle is Helping Save the World

How a Manure-Eating Beetle is Helping Save the World

Written by Annie-Rose Strasser

The dung beetle isn’t the most glamorous sounding insect on the planet, but it’s possible this one little creature could share some major responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the globe.

According to a new study from researches at the University of Helsinki, manure-eating dung beetles aerate “cow pats” — or cattle manure. This aeration process reduces the anaerobic conditions — places with essentially no oxygen — that cause methane to seep from the manure piles. As one of the study’s researches explains in a press release, this is good news for climate change:

“You see, the important thing here is not just how much carbon is released” explains Tomas Roslin, head of the research team. “The question is rather in what form it is released. If carbon is first taken up by plants as carbon dioxide, then emitted in the same format by the cows eating the plants, then the effect of plants passing through cattle will be small in terms of global warming. But if in the process the same carbon is converted from carbon dioxide to methane – a gas with a much higher impact on climate – it is then that we need to worry.”

As one of the most potent forms of greenhouse gas, methane is a major contributor to global climate change. Cows are serious producers of methane, with “ruminant livestock,” comprised largely of cows, accounting for 28 percent of methane emissions related to human activity. The proliferation of meat consumption and thus cattle farming has only worsened this problem, and the UN has said cows might actually be worse for the environment than cars and trucks combined. Presumably, keeping cows indoors in factory farms worsens the methane emissions by removing cow pats from the hungry mouths of dung beetles.

Innovations to change cow’s diets or use their emissions for energy might help ease the methane problem, but it’s clear dung beetles are already helping to do the job. In a cruel twist of fate, however, dung beetles are actually on the decline worldwide, even as cattle farming grows. “The implications also quite worrying,” said one researcher involved in the study.

(HT: Weather Channel)

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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79 comments

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6:52AM PDT on Sep 9, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

1:54AM PDT on Sep 6, 2013

AH HA ! thanks for the link N R !

One of many insects that I appreciate sooooo very much.!.

Right up there with the pollinators !

" Dung beetles play a remarkable role in agriculture.
By burying and consuming dung, they improve nutrient recycling and soil structure. "

ISN'T THAT FANTASTIC !

WHY THAT SOUNDS CLEANER THAN COW MANURE FOR FERTILIZER !

READ MORE INFO @ WIKI BELOW......

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dung_beetle


Did you know that " Dung beetles are currently the only animal, other than humans, known to navigate and orient themselves using the Milky Way." ?

Oh I'm so tickled that I'm Clapping my hands like Mama Anna Klump in the Eddie Murphy movie The Nutty Professor !

HERCULES ! HERCULES ! HERCULES !

4:20PM PDT on Sep 5, 2013

AWESOME ! I'm sending this to ER C

go to her profile page & watch the "TRUE FACTS ABOUNT THE DUNG BEETLE" VIDEO

http://www.care2.com/c2c/people/profile.html?pid=932804517

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

I SURE HOPE THE GMOS DON'T AFFECT THE POPULATION OF THIS AMAZING BEETLE !

###############

THEY ALSO LOVE DOG POOP. BE CAREFUL SCOOPING.....IF YOU RUN ACROSS SOME UNDER THE POO, LEAVE A SMALL BIT OF POO FOR THEM TO FINISH OFF.

12:32PM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

AWESOME Article, Thank You!

11:18AM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

Every creature, no matter how large or how small, has a purpose on this earth. We humans need to do what we can to keep them around. How sad that some species are no longer here.

2:31AM PDT on Sep 2, 2013

Cool!

12:20PM PDT on Sep 1, 2013

Does anyone know why dung beetles are on the decline?

11:25AM PDT on Sep 1, 2013

ty

8:01AM PDT on Sep 1, 2013

Good on them all fits into the web of life!

7:53AM PDT on Sep 1, 2013

I have always made compost piles from leaves, kitchen scraps and other organic materials. I find it interesting to watch the process of taking these things and turning it into rich, organic dirt. Dirt is itself a living thing, good dirt is teaming with life, tiny microbes that make plants grow, bugs and fungi. I saw that many insects contribute to the decomposition process, by stiring up the pile and letting in water and air and also by breaking down larger pieces into smaller ones. I had a pile once invaded by fire ants. While not happy with the fire ants being there, I found they did a very efficient job of breaking down organic materials into smaller parts and aiding decomposition. Every bug, good or bad, is here for a reason. They have a job to do, even if we don't always understand it.

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