Biology and Conservation of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle

Published: July 20, 2022 | Author: Lawrence Mbaki | Read Time: 3 minutes

Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetleThe Bureau of Land Management recently awarded Southern Utah University $61,487 to support a study designed to protect and extend our knowledge of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes (CPSD) Tiger Beetle and to further contribute to understanding the Coral Pink Sand Dunes ecosystem and its biological diversity.

The CPSD Tiger Beetle—an insect that only resides within the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, Utah, is probably one of Utah’s rarest animals and its unique dune habitat is a resource of significant cultural and biological value and beauty. The dunes themselves provide considerable recreational and educational opportunities for the general public, including being a popular OHV (off-highway vehicle) recreation site for 4-wheel enthusiasts, as well as a popular spot for outdoor photographers and nature lovers. The information obtained in this study will contribute to the management of this site for these continued multiple uses while protecting the rare tiger beetle.

Dr. Fredric Govedich, SUU Biology Department chair and professor, is the principal investigator (PI) on this grant award processed through SUU’s sponsored programs office (a.k.a. the SPARC Office). Together, with biology faculty/co-PIs Dr. Samuel Wells and Dr. Bonnie Bain, they will work on the study with two SUU students each year—giving them practical, hands-on experience with data collection.

“The biggest reward is seeing students out there—working and chasing after beetles—and loving it!” said Dr. Govedich. “Finding other fascinating things out there besides the beetles is also amazing. And we get to interact with the public and people from around the world who are fascinated to be around ‘real’ scientists.”

This long-term project was initially conducted by faculty at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA back in 1991. Because of its proximity to CPSD State Park, SUU faculty became part of the study in 2021 with the intent to continue it well into the future. With the project now fully under the direction of Dr. Govedich, SUU’s faculty can get to the site more easily and more often. The joy of being a local institution right around the corner from the dunes and working on this project is the privilege of having the state parks and BLM listen to and help implement the concerns, advice, and expertise of these faculty members.

“It’s neat that SUU is having such an experience,” said Dr. Sam Wells. “BLM and the State of Utah trust us with this responsibility and it's great the public has no hard feelings about this since we’re also local.”

Dr. Govedich and his colleagues unanimously advise future PIs to get to work early on securing external funding for these kinds of projects that impact our students in meaningful ways. He also further advises faculty and staff to “reach out to the great people over at the SPARC office for help, they are top-notch. Get to know the SPARC Office and get in early on—don’t save it for the last minute.”

To learn more about the Tiger Beetle project, contact to Dr. Govedich at

Produced by the SPARC Office
SUU’s SPARC Office provides assistance to faculty, staff, and administrators seeking external funding for their projects and programs, from concept development and planning through implementation and management of funded projects.

Tags: SPARC Biology Faculty

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