Onthophagus australis

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Geographic Range

The range of the Native dung beetle is over most of southeastern Australia. It can be found from southern Queensland to Tasmania and South Australia.

Habitat

Onthophagus australis is most often found in manure in open pastures.

Physical Description

The most distinctive feature is the segmented antennae. This antennae forms a club containing three to seven leaves. These leaves can be expanded or folded together to form one compact club. The beetle is brightly colored. The surface of the dung beetle's head varies, but it is short, broad, and partially deflexed. The eyes are oval and prominent. The wings are large and well-developed.

Reproduction

Native dung beetles emerge mainly during late summer into fall. For the first several weeks they are in a "maturation feeding stage". A majority of beetles are in the adult stage during the winter. Ocassionally eggs are laid in the fall, which then emerge in spring.

Food Habits

It is unclear what the exact function of food balls is in the life cycle of the Native dung beetle. While most beetles store dung in food chambers before reproduction, the native dung beetle forms food balls during reproduction. This leads to O. australis being the only beetle found in dung when the first population of bush flies begin oviposition in the spring.

Conservation Status

Native dung beetles are not in danger of extinction.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Contributors

Jennifer Roof (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

The Beetles of the United States. Ross Arnett. The American Entomological Institute. Loudonville, New York. 1968.

Phenology of O. australis. Marina Tyndale-Biscoe and Josephine Walker. Australian Journal of Zoology. Volume 40 (3).