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Prediction of temperatures in cattle dung for estimating development times of coprophilous organisms

  • J. N. Matthiessen (a1) and M. J. Palmer (a2)


In studies in Western Australia, temperatures in air and one- and two-litre pads of cattle dung set out weekly and ranging from one to 20 days old were measured hourly for 438 days over all seasons, producing 1437 day x dung-pad observations. Daily maximum temperatures (and hence thermal accumulation) in cattle dung pads could not be accurately predicted using meteorological data alone. An accurate predictor of daily maximum dung temperature, using multiple regression analysis, required measurement of the following factors: maximum air temperature, hours of sunshine, rainfall, a seasonal factor (the day number derived from a linear interpolation of day number from day 0 at the winter solstice to day 182 at the preceding and following summer solstices) and a dung-pad age-specific intercept term, giving an equation that explained a 91·4% of the variation in maximum dung temperature. Daily maximum temperature in two-litre dung pads was 0·6°C cooler than in one-litre pads. Daily minimum dung temperature equalled minimum air temperature, and daily minimum dung temperatures occurred at 05.00 h and maximum temperatures at 14.00 h for one-litre and 14.30 h for two-litre pads. Thus, thermal summation in a dung pad above any threshold temperature can be computed using a skewed sine curve fitted to daily minimum air temperature and the calculated maximum dung temperature.



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Greenham, P. M. (1972). The effect of the temperature of cattle dung on the rate of development of the larvae of the Australian bushfly, Musca vetustissima Walker (Diptera: Muscidae).—J. Anim. Ecol. 41, 429437.
Matthiessen, J. N. & Hayles, L. (1983). Seasonal changes in characteristics of cattle dung as a resource for an insect in southwestern Australia.—Aust. J. Ecol. 8, 916.
Moon, R. D. (1983). Simulating developmental time of preadult face flies (Diptera: Muscidae) from air temperature records.—Environ. Entomol. 12, 943948.
Silverman, B. W. (1985). Some aspects of spline smoothing approach to non-parametric regression curve fitting.—Jl R. statist. Soc. (B) 47, 152.
Silverman, B. W. & Watters, G. W. (1984). BATHSPLINE: an interactive spline smoothing package.—17 pp. UK, Univ. Bath (Misc. Publ. School of Mathematics).

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Prediction of temperatures in cattle dung for estimating development times of coprophilous organisms

  • J. N. Matthiessen (a1) and M. J. Palmer (a2)


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