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Beetles Modify Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from Cow Pats
Agriculture is one of the biggest sources of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. Among these, cattle farming for meat and milk are major sources of methane, a gas with a potent warming effect. Much of this methane comes from the guts of ruminating cattle, but some escapes from dung pats on pastures. Now researchers from the University of Helsinki have found that beetles living in the cow pats may reduce emissions of methane. The study has just been published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Atte Penttilä, Eleanor M. Slade, Asko Simojoki, Terhi Riutta, Kari Minkkinen, Tomas Roslin. Quantifying Beetle-Mediated Effects on Gas Fluxes from Dung Pats. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (8): e71454 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071454
By digging around in their food, dung beetles like Aphodius pedellus may aerate cow pats — and thereby modify methane emissions.