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Using insect biodiversity to measure the effectiveness of on-farm restoration plantings

Mann, V 2013 , 'Using insect biodiversity to measure the effectiveness of on-farm restoration plantings', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Advances in farming technology, and the variety of modern agricultural practices, have the
potential to reduce, maintain or improve biodiversity in an agricultural landscape.
Environmentally sensitive farming systems are becoming more important on a local level, as
climate change, declining biodiversity and habitat fragmentation impact the environment at a
landscape scale.
Invertebrates are important components of an agricultural landscape, playing numerous roles
including pest control, plant protection, pollination, and carbon cycling. They are also an
important food source for many reptiles, birds, mammals and other insects, making them a
key component of the food chain. Ants in particular are useful tools in biodiversity
monitoring as they are abundant in both disturbed and intact habitats, and their many
functional groups help to illustrate their community structure at a given point in time. For
these reasons, they can be used to demonstrate the short and long term impacts of land
management in various environments, including rehabilitated mine sites, fire affected regions,
and agricultural landscapes.
Conducted on working farms, this study looked specifically at insect in the agricultural
landscape, using 10 sheep pastures which have been restored with eucalypt plantings.
Looking at species richness, relative abundance, and community structure, this study assessed
the ant and beetle communities in these plantings and compares these to pasture control sites
and nearby remnant woodland patch control sites. The influences of elevation, ground cover,
soil clay, patch size, and age of planting were tested using regression analyses. It was found
that leaf litter cover and weediness have a significant influence on invertebrate recolonisation
of a restoration planting. Elevation was negatively correlated for all ant activity, whilst the
age of the planting was positively correlated with ant abundance and species richness.
This study shows that ants can be useful monitoring tools in agricultural landscapes, and
specifically useful when assessing the effectiveness of on-farm restoration plantings. It also
provides a better understanding of the influence of environmental variables on a restoration
planting, which in turn can help inform land management decisions.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Mann, V
Keywords: restoration ecology, terrestrial invertebrates, environmental monitoring
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