Worrisome Dung Beetle Decline in Mediterranean; Eco-Important Beetle’s Olfactory, Locomotor, & Reproductive Capacities Damaged by Low Doses of Ivermectin, Anti-Parasitic Drug Commonly Adminstered to Livestock

Research led by the University of Alicante's Ibero-American Centre for Biodiversity (WHERE) in Spain shows the adverse effects of an anti-parasitic drug (ivermectin), commonly administered prophylactically to livestock, on populations of a key dung beetle in Mediterranean ecosystems. A multidisciplinary research team, made up of researchers from the Spanish universities of Alicante, Jaen and Granada, the French Universities of Montpellier and Paul-Valéry Montpellier, the CSIC's National Museum of Natural Sciences, and the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, has analyzed the impact of ivermectin on Scarabaeus cicatricosus populations in the Mediterranean region. Led by José R. Verdú, Ph.D., from the Ibero-American Centre for Biodiversity (CIBIO) at the Universidad de Alicante, this research shows that arthropods that ingest this substance, even in low doses, become unable to interact with their surroundings because the drug affects both their olfactory and locomotor capacity. This fact may explain the population decline observed for this dung beetle. The open-access article reporting this finding, “Low Doses of Ivermectin Cause Sensory and Musculoskeletal Disorders in Dung Beetles,” was published online on September 9, 2015 in Scientific Reports. Ivermectin is a very effective anti-parasitic drug that has been used as a preventative in livestock since its discovery in 1981. Since then, the use of ivermectin use has increased exponentially to become a standard drug in the treatment and prevention of common parasites, including in human beings. The drug is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be as an essential medication. Dr. Verdú points out that, although this drug has proven very effective, its widespread use comes at a price.
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