sustainable use of parasiticides importance

- Soil health-

Soil health is essential to ensuring good quality grazing for livestock. Soil structure and nutrient levels are directly related to dung beetle populations.

Dung beetles in the UK are either tunnelers or dwellers. Dwellers colonise and remain in the dung, whilst tunnelers borrow down, drawing dung into the soil. Without these actions, soil quality including structure and nutrient levels are significantly reduced. 

- Soil Structure -
Dung beetle's increase permeability of soils, reducing soil erosion by forming macropores via tunnelling actions, allowing water drainage. The pores aerate the soil and allow for root growth, improving crop productivity. 

- Nutrient Cycling -
The cycling of macronutrients, such as nitrogen and carbon, are facilitated by dung beetles. It is essential that soil nutrient levels are maintained to maximise crop growth without the need for costly fertiliser inputs. Further more, decomposition of dung  reduces methane emissions from pats.

- Biodiversity -

Biodiversity is essential to the functioning of agroecosystems. Agricultural management practices have changed soil fauna communities, affecting organisms at higher tropic levels.

- Food Source -
Dung beetles are a food source for multiple species including horseshoe bats and farmland birds. Reductions in their numbers could have drastic implications on these other species.  

- Dung Beetle Diversity -
Decline in abundance of dung beetles is a major concern, as is species diversity loss. Tunneler species have an important ecological role. Reductions in tunnelers will negatively affect soil health and allow less ecologically significant species to dominate beetle populations.

- Reducing Parasites -

Internal and external parasites cause economic losses as infections result in reduced nutrient uptake capacity within livestock. Sustainable methods of parasite control are needed to maintain animal health and farm productivity.

- Dung beetles can reduce parasitic worm numbers -
Research has suggested dung beetles reduce worm burdens at pasture over the summer grazing seasons, via dung decomposition. This prevents migration of worms from dung. This  shows reducing the level of parasiticide usage will, counterintuitively, reduce parasites.
- Reduction of dung build up on pasture –
Beetles break down dung pats at pasture, reducing the abundance of pest flies

- Resistance concerns -
Overuse or misuse of parasiticides can cause parasites to develop resistant populations, meaning the efficacy of these drugs will decline.

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