Interaction between Earthworm and Dung Beetles on Cattle Dung Decomposition

우분 분해에 대한 지렁이와 소똥구리의 상호작용

  • Bang, Hea-Son (Agro-Ecosystem, Environmental Ecology Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA) ;
  • Na, Young-Eun (Agro-Ecosystem, Environmental Ecology Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA) ;
  • Jung, Myung-Pyo (Agro-Ecosystem, Environmental Ecology Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA) ;
  • Kim, Myung-Hyun (Agro-Ecosystem, Environmental Ecology Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA) ;
  • Han, Min-Su (Agro-Ecosystem, Environmental Ecology Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA) ;
  • Kang, Kee-Kyung (Agro-Ecosystem, Environmental Ecology Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA) ;
  • Lee, Deog-Bae (Agro-Ecosystem, Environmental Ecology Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA)
  • 방혜선 (국립농업과학원 기후변화생태과) ;
  • 나영은 (국립농업과학원 기후변화생태과) ;
  • 정명표 (국립농업과학원 기후변화생태과) ;
  • 김명현 (국립농업과학원 기후변화생태과) ;
  • 한민수 (국립농업과학원 기후변화생태과) ;
  • 강기경 (국립농업과학원 기후변화생태과) ;
  • 이덕배 (국립농업과학원 기후변화생태과)
  • Published : 2009.09.30


The effect of earthworm and dung beetle on cattle dung pat decomposition was assessed by combining quantification of earthworm density and with or without dung beetle in pats and measurements of the decomposition rate of these pats. Cattle dung decomposition rate was higher in the pots treated with both earthworm and dung beetle than in the pots with either earthworm or beetle alone. After dung beetle and earthworm activity, the growth of oat in earthworm with dung beetle treatment was similar effect with fertilizer treatment. Dung beetle was responsible for dung decomposition until 78% moisture content in the dung, earthworm was responsible for up to 30% moisture of dung, and two group were not shown any activity for decomposition less 30% moisture content of dung. Therefore dung in the different periods could be broken down by each group. The disappearance and conveyance of dung by earthworm and dung beetle was 72% of the initial dung amount. 10.2% of 72% dung was used making brood balls by dung beetle. Earthworm activity was not an impediment on making brood balls by dung beetles. The interaction of earthworm and dung beetle may have a complementary cooperation rather than competition in the same dung pat. Indeed, development of earthworm accelerate to coexist with dung beetles instead without dung beetles. From this result, maximum benefits of the effective earthworm and dung beetle can be achieved, it is needed to preserve population of earthworm and dung beetles in pasture to sustainable agricultural environment.


  1. Bornemissza, G.F. (1960) Could dung eating insects improve our pastures? J. Aust. Inst. Agri. Sci. 26, 54-56
  2. Nakamura, Y. (1975) Decomposition of organic materials and soil fauna in pasture. Pedobiologia, 15, 21-221
  3. Lee, K.E. and Foster, R.C. (1991) Soil organisms and sustainable productivity. Aust. J. Soil. Res. 30, 855-892
  4. Bornemissza, G.F. and Williams, C.H. (1970) An effect of dung beetle activity on plant yield. Pedobiologia 10, 1-7
  5. Holter, P. (1979) Effect of dung beetles (Aphodius spp.) and earthworms on the disappearance of cattle dung. Oikos 32, 393-402
  6. Fincher, G.T. (1981) The potential value of dung beetles in pasture ecosystems. J. Ga. Entomol. Soc. 16, 316-333
  7. Stevenson, B.G. and Dindal, D.L. (1987) Insect effects on decomposition of cow dung in microcosms. Pedobiologia 30, 81-92
  8. Charman, P.E.V. and Murphy, B.W. (1992) Soils- Their Properties and Management, Sydney University Press, p.8
  9. White, R.E. (1987) Introduction to the Principles and Practices of Soil Science, 2nd edn, Blackwell Scientific Publications, p.34-36
  10. Macqueen, A and Beirne, B.P (1975) Effects of cattle dung and dung beetle activity on growth of beardless wheatgrass in British Columbia, Can. J. Plant Sci. 55, 961-967
  11. Wall, R. and Strong, L. (1987) Environmental consequences of treating cattle with the antiparasitic drug ivermectin. Nature. 327(4), 418-421
  12. Sommer, C., Steffansen, B., Nielsen, B. O., Gronvold, J., Vagn Jesen, K.-M., Jespersen, J. B., Springborg, J., Nansen, P. (1992) Ivermectin excreted in cattle dung after subcutaneous injection or pour-on treatment: concentrations and impact on dung fauna. Bull. Ent. Res. 82, 257-264
  13. Strong, L. (1992) Avermectins: a review of their impact of insects of cattle dung. Bull. ent. Res. 82, 265-274
  14. Na, Y.E., Bang, H.S. and Han, M.S. (2005) Assssement of the effects of some insecticides on mortaality of earthworm (Eisenia fetida). Korea J. Environ. Agri. 24(3), 289-294
  15. Bang, H.S., Na, Y.E., Kim, M.H., Han, M.S., and Lee, J.T. (2007) Effect of ivermectin contained-cattle dung on the development of earthworm, Eisenia fetida. Korean J. Soil Sci. Fert. 40(2), 114-117
  16. Hong, Y. and Kim, T.H. (2007) Occurrence of earthworm in agro-ecosystem. korean J. Environ. Biol. 25(2), 88-93
  17. Paik, W.H. (1976) Biology of the dung beetles in Korea. Seoul Natl. Univ., Coll. of Agric. Bull. 1, 153-194
  18. Kim, J.I. (1994) Seasonal periodicities and faunal change by the times on Scarabaeidae from South Korea based in recent 20 years. Nature Conservation.87, 35-45
  19. Na, Y.E., Han, M.S., Lee, S.B., Kim, S.G. and Park, H.M. (2000) Establishment of disposing method for dairy cow manure by vermiculture. Korean. J. Soil. Zool. 5(2), 125-131
  20. Bang, H.S., Mah, I.Y., Hwang, S.J., and Kim, J.I. (2000) Ecological characteristic of the dung beetle, Copris tripartitus Waterhouse (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) in indoor rearing. Korean J. Entomol. 30(2), 85-89
  21. Bang, H.S., Huerta C., Kim, J.I., and Goo, T.W. (2001) Studies on the ecology of oviposition of Copris tripartitus Waterhouse (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). Korean J. Entomol. 31(4), 237-242
  22. Spain A.V., Lavelle, P., and Mariotti, A. (1992) Stimulation of plant growth by tropical earthworms. Soil Biol. Biochem 24(12), 1629-1633
  23. Bang, H.S., Lee, J.H., Kwon, O.S., Na, Y.E., Jang, Y.S., and Kim, W.H. (2005) Effect of paracoprid dung beetles on the growth of grass and its underlying soil. Applied Soil Ecology. 29, 165-171
  24. Marsh, R. and Campling, R.C. (1970) Fouling of pastures by dung.- Herb. Abstr. 40, 123-130
  25. Lee, L.E. and Foster, R.C. (1991) Soil fauna and soil structure. Aust. J. Soil Res., 29, 745-775
  26. Lumaret, J.P. and Kadiri, N. (1995) The influence of the first wave of colonizing insects on cattle dung dispersal. Pedobiologia 39, 506-517
  27. MacDiarmid, B.N. and Watkin, B.R. (1972) The cattle dung patch. 2. Effect of a dung patch on the chemical status of the soil, and ammonia nitrogen losses from the patch. J. Br. Grassl. Soc. 27, 43-48
  28. Holter, P. (1983) Effect of earthworms on the diappearance rate of cattle droppings. In: Satchell, J. E.(ed.) Earthworm ecology. Chapman and Hall, London. U.K. p. 49-57