Creating a species checklist for dung beetles

Ms Zann Teo appreciates the early exposure to research opportunities, something quite unique to the CN Yang Scholars Programme she is enrolled in.

Dung beetles collect dung, bury it, feed on it and lay their eggs in it. In the process, they help to disperse seeds, recycle nutrients and even reduce methane emissions. If these insects vanish, forest biodiversity will decline and healthy ecosystems will be thrown off balance.

Ms Zann Teo, a scholar with NTU’s research-focused CN Yang Scholars Programme (CNYSP), discovered her fascination with the insect during her first CNYSP research attachment at the Tropical Ecology and Entomology Lab at NTU.

As part of her third-year research project, she compiled a species checklist that will help scientists and biologists make conservation plans for both the identified dung beetle species and their closely affiliated mammal communities in the ecosystem.

“I wanted to create this checklist to better understand the present biodiversity of the insect and add value to taxonomic records,” she explains.

Ms Teo’s research was recognised as the Regional Winner of Asia for the category of Earth & Environmental Sciences at the UA Global Summit 2022 in Dublin.

“I hope my research can deepen our understanding of the impacts of climate and land use change, and guide future biodiversity conservation policy,” she says.

Through CNYSP, she also had the opportunity to complete her final year project – on the impacts of environmental and land use change on wasp populations – at the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London, where she interacted with leading ecologists from around the world, an experience that left a deep impression on her.


“The CNYSP had exposed me to research since I was a freshman, an opportunity that is quite unique to the programme,” she says. 

“The funding support has also allowed me to broaden my horizons and attend science conferences overseas to enrich my knowledge and deepen my interest in the field.”

Source: The Straits Times | Scholars' Choice © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

Published Feb 17, 2023