The role of dung beetles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cattle farming

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Slade , E M , Riutta , T , Roslin , T & Tuomisto , H L 2016 , ' The role of dung beetles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cattle farming ' , Scientific Reports , vol. 6 , 18140 .

Title: The role of dung beetles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cattle farming
Author: Slade, Eleanor M.; Riutta, Terhi; Roslin, Tomas; Tuomisto, Hanna L.
Contributor organization: Department of Agricultural Sciences
Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group
Date: 2016-01-05
Language: eng
Number of pages: 8
Belongs to series: Scientific Reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
Abstract: Agriculture is one of the largest anthropogenic sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs), with dairy and beef production accounting for nearly two-thirds of emissions. Several recent papers suggest that dung beetles may affect fluxes of GHGs from cattle farming. Here, we put these previous findings into context. Using Finland as an example, we assessed GHG emissions at three scales: the dung pat, pasture ecosystem, and whole lifecycle of milk or beef production. At the first two levels, dung beetles reduced GHG emissions by up to 7% and 12% respectively, mainly through large reductions in methane (CH4) emissions. However, at the lifecycle level, dung beetles accounted for only a 0.05-0.13% reduction of overall GHG emissions. This mismatch derives from the fact that in intensive production systems, only a limited fraction of all cow pats end up on pastures, offering limited scope for dung beetle mitigation of GHG fluxes. In contrast, we suggest that the effects of dung beetles may be accentuated in tropical countries, where more manure is left on pastures, and dung beetles remove and aerate dung faster, and that this is thus a key area for future research. These considerations give a new perspective on previous results perspective, and suggest that studies of biotic effects on GHG emissions from dung pats on a global scale are a priority for current research.
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1172 Environmental sciences
412 Animal science, dairy science
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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