Suzanne Lipton

UC Santa Cruz

“Dung Beetles, Soil Microbes, and Soil organic Carbon in Pasturelands of California’s Central Coast”

I conduct my research on pasturelands of California’s Central Coast, where ranchers are interested in enhancing and preserving dung beetle communities because of the many ecosystem services they provide. My research investigates how grazing management practices, including the time spent grazing and the number of cows on the pasture, as well as the surrounding landscape cover impact dung beetle abundance and diversity in pasturelands. Additionally, I’m investigating how dung beetle abundance and diversity influences soil microbial communities (i.e. soil fungal and bacterial communities) and nutrient cycling in pasture systems, with a focus on carbon. Healthy pastureland soils can sequester carbon, and dung beetles may be an underrecognized actor in this process. I am looking at the soil microbial community as well as soil carbon because soil microbes play an integral part in nutrient cycling in the soil. As part of my research, I am also investigating if there are particular soil microbes that are associated with soil organic carbon content.


My research examines above/below ground interactions in agroecosystems, specifically how aboveground management can impact biodiversity, climate change, and soil health. My dissertation focuses on how dung beetles affect the soil microbial community and nutrient cycling in pasturelands of the Central Coast.

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