Honours update – Sandie

I have completed two of the three proposed experiments for my honours project so far. I have completed the secondary seed dispersal experiment, looking at how tunneller dung beetle species, Onthophagous binodis, and dweller dung beetle species, Aphodius fimetarius, contribute to the ecosystem service of secondary seed dispersal in Australia by using beads as surrogates for seeds, and observing and recording if they take the bead seed mimics underground when creating brood balls, or if they move the beads around in general through their manipulation of the cattle dung, and the depths at which they take these broods. I have counted all the beads in the brood balls and am currently putting the data together in spreadsheets for analysis. I have also completed the roller experiments proposed using the arena. I used species Sisyphus spinipes and Sisyphus rubrus for these experiments and conducted a number of pilot studies looking at how far roller species take their brood balls, if they have preferential burial sites, and if they would take seeds within the dung (bead mimics) in their broods. The data from this experiment is ready for further analysis. At present and I am conducting the third proposed experiment for my honours project, which involves looking at the difference in gas emissions in frozen cattle dung vs. unfrozen cattle dung. For this experiment I am using the Gasmet machine in the zoology glasshouse for a period of time yet to be fully determined. Furthermore, I am in the process of organising the data collected from my experiments so I can analysis it statistically and make a series of graphs, and am also in the process of reading papers and writing my thesis.

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