, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 179-199

The Use of Invertebrates to Detect Small-scale Habitat Heterogeneity and its Application to Restoration Practices

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Abstract

Recent conceptual and technological solutions to biodiversityassessment allow large numbers of invertebrate specimens to beprocessed rapidly and provide researchers and practitioners with a unique tool for characterizing habitats. One applicationof these advances is the ability to detect and monitor small-scale habitat heterogeneity and so provide a measure of ecosystem restoration. This case study presents a test of theefficacy of using invertebrates to assess and monitor ecologicalrestoration following bush regeneration. Eight contiguous habitatpatches within a suburb of northern Sydney, Australia, were selected to represent areas that had undergone different bushregeneration techniques. A nearby and relatively undisturbed area of bushland was also sampled. A total of 57 806 ground-active invertebrate specimens from 35 different orders were collected in pitfall traps. 1 246 ant (Formicidae) specimens were further sorted into 46 ant morphospecies from20 genera. Analyses of the three taxonomic data sets, includingtwo different data transformations, demonstrated that: (i) invertebrate communities successfully characterized different sites, providing a high degree of differentiation among sites;(ii) ordinations of the sites allowed visual assessment of theimpact of each management technique on the habitat relativeto undisturbed habitats; and (iii) characterization of sitescould be achieved using abundance classes or binary countsof ant morphospecies, representing potential cost and timesavings. The project duration was a total of three personweeks and cost less than US$3,000 (1999 prices) to complete.Measurement of invertebrate assemblages will provide a toolfor both rapid assessment of management decisions and ameans by which to implement adaptive management and restoration.