Seasonal abundance of Musca Vetustissima Walker and other cattle dung fauna in Central Australia

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1986
Authors:J. N. Matthiessen, Hall, G. P., Chewings, V. H.
Journal:Journal of the Australian Entomological Society
Keywords:dung beetle, ecological function, ecosystem service, flies, parasite

Bush flies, Musca vetustissima attracted to a human, and arthropod fauna attracted to fresh cattle dung in 24 hours, were sampled every 2 weeks for 2 years (1980-1982) near Alice Springs in central Australia. Substantial rain fell in both summers, but it was more prolonged in the second. The bush fly occurred and bred throughout the year, although its abundance was usually low. The only major increase in bush fly abundance occurred after the first summer’s rainfall caused the growth of new herbage. This was followed by increased feeding on dung by adult flies and intensified breeding. Bush fly abundance was low in the second summer, despite evidence of a long period ofcontinuous breeding. A variety of dung-feeding and predatory beetles and also mites was almost always present, although numbers were usually low. The introduced dung beetles Euoniticellus intermedius and Onthophagus gazella numerically dominated samples. Dung fauna abundance also increased after significant rainfall, particularly in the second summer. Dissections of the dung beetles showed that they bred at these times.

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