Science Diary – Dung Beetles – Traps

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Ambience: Rainforest of Belize

Well, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it! I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. This is the first of a new suite of programs we’re calling Science Diaries. To start things off, we’re getting down and dirty with Dr. Kevina Vulinec and her band of student researchers in the rainforest of Belize studying dung beetles. Now, when dung beetles carry away, feed on, and basically recycle dung, they’re also dispersing the seeds found inside the dung balls. So the beetles are playing a vital function in the forest ecosystem. We join Dr. Vulinec on one of her first mornings in Belize.

“I’m getting ready to go out and set traps for the first time. What we’re looking at is the species diversity of dung beetles. Because that is going to make a big difference in what the secondary seed dispersal is. And we want to find out what kind of seeds are ending up underground.”

The next day, Kevina heads out into the rainforest to see whether any dung beetles have taken the bait in the traps she set.

“This is actually an experiment where I have two piles of dung that have been set on the ground. They’re about a foot apart. And in one pile is a small bead with a string attached. And in the other one is a large bead with a string attached and the idea is that if a dung beetle comes along, gathers up the dung and rolls it away, we’re going to be able to see what distance the dung beetle takes it and at what depth the bury it at. And as I can see, nothing much has happened here. So there are either not many dung beetles out since last night, or they’re not particularly pleased with the kind of bait we gave them.”

To hear more about Science Diaries, check out our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

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Science Diary - Dung Beetles - Traps

Science Diarist Dr. Kevina Vulinec shares her research on dung beetles in Belize as a part of her audio diary.
Air Date:09/18/2006
Scientist:
Transcript:

Music
Ambience: Rainforest of Belize

Well, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it! I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. This is the first of a new suite of programs we’re calling Science Diaries. To start things off, we’re getting down and dirty with Dr. Kevina Vulinec and her band of student researchers in the rainforest of Belize studying dung beetles. Now, when dung beetles carry away, feed on, and basically recycle dung, they’re also dispersing the seeds found inside the dung balls. So the beetles are playing a vital function in the forest ecosystem. We join Dr. Vulinec on one of her first mornings in Belize.

“I’m getting ready to go out and set traps for the first time. What we’re looking at is the species diversity of dung beetles. Because that is going to make a big difference in what the secondary seed dispersal is. And we want to find out what kind of seeds are ending up underground.”

The next day, Kevina heads out into the rainforest to see whether any dung beetles have taken the bait in the traps she set.

“This is actually an experiment where I have two piles of dung that have been set on the ground. They’re about a foot apart. And in one pile is a small bead with a string attached. And in the other one is a large bead with a string attached and the idea is that if a dung beetle comes along, gathers up the dung and rolls it away, we’re going to be able to see what distance the dung beetle takes it and at what depth the bury it at. And as I can see, nothing much has happened here. So there are either not many dung beetles out since last night, or they’re not particularly pleased with the kind of bait we gave them.”

To hear more about Science Diaries, check out our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

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