, Volume 148, Issue 1, pp 61–69 | Cite as

Rapid recovery of an insect–plant interaction following habitat loss and experimental wetland restoration

Plant Animal Interactions


This study examined the impact of wetland habitat loss and isolation on an insect–plant interaction, and the subsequent rate of recovery of the interaction following experimental habitat restoration. We compared herbivore colonisation rates and herbivory damage by ‘Batrachedra’ sp. (Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae) on experimentally placed potted Sporadanthus ferrugineus (Restionaceae) plants at increasing distances (up to 800 m) from an intact habitat (the source population). These tests showed that even a moderate degree of isolation (i.e. greater than 400 m) from the intact wetland habitat caused an almost complete collapse of the insect–plant interaction, at least in the short term. The number of eggs and larvae of colonising ‘Batrachedra’ sp., as well as average larval size and the proportion of S. ferrugineus stems damaged, all decreased logarithmically with increasing distance from the intact habitat, presumably due to dispersal limitation of the herbivore. Subsequently, to test whether the interaction can recover following habitat restoration, we surveyed herbivore colonisation rates and herbivory damage on naturally regenerated S. ferrugineus plants on experimentally restored ‘islands’ at increasing distances (up to 800 m) from an intact habitat. The rate of recovery of the interaction was surprisingly rapid (i.e. between 196 and 308 weeks). The degree of difference in the density of eggs and larvae, and in the proportion of stems damaged with increasing isolation from the intact wetland, gradually diminished over 196 weeks. After 308 weeks there was no significant difference in the insect–plant interaction between the intact wetland sites and any of the experimentally restored sites up to 800 m away. These results suggest that some insect–plant interactions can recover rapidly from habitat loss with restoration management.


Dispersal limitation Habitat loss Peat mining Rate of recovery Sporadanthus ferrugineus 

Supplementary material

442_2005_344_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (143 kb)
Supplementary material


  1. Andersen AN, Hoffmann BD, Somes J (2003) Ants as indicators of minesite restoration: community recovery at one of eight rehabilitation sites in central Queensland. Ecol Manage Restor 4:12–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andresen E (2003) Effects of forest fragmentation on dung beetle communities and functional consequences for plant regeneration. Ecography 26:87–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armitage AR, Fong P (2004) Gastropod colonization of a created coastal wetland: potential influences of habitat suitability and dispersal ability. Restor Ecol 12:391–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aronson J, Floret C, Le Floc’h E, Ovalle C, Pontanier R (1993) Restoration and rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems in arid and semi-arid land. I. A view from the south. Restor Ecol 1:8–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baer SG, Kitchen DJ, Blair JM, Rice CW (2002) Changes in ecosystem structure and function along a chronosequence of restored grasslands. Ecol Appl 12:1688–1701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Becker P, Moure JS, Peralta FJA (1991) More about euglossine bees in Amazonian forest fragments. Biotropica 23:586–591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bisevac L, Majer JD (1999) Comparative study of ant communities of rehabilitated mineral sand mines and heathland, Western Australia. Restor Ecol 7:117–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clarkson BR (2002) Swamps, fens and bogs. In: Clarkson B, Merrett M, Downs T (eds) Botany of the Waikato. Waikato Botanical Society, Hamilton, pp 49–58Google Scholar
  9. Davies RG, Eggleton P, Dibog L, Lawton JH, Bignell DE, Brauman A, Hartmann C, Nunes L, Holt J, Rouland C (1999) Successional response of a tropical forest termite assemblage to experimental habitat perturbation. J Appl Ecol 36:946–962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davis ALV, van Aarde RJ, Scholtz CH, Delport JH (2002) Increasing representation of localized dung beetles across a chronosequence of regenerating vegetation and natural dune forest in South Africa. Global Ecol Biogeogr 11:191–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davis ALV, van Aarde RJ, Scholtz CH, Delport JH (2003) Convergence between dung beetle assemblages of a post-mining vegetational chronosequence and unmined dune forest. Restor Ecol 11:29–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Denys C, Schmidt H (1998) Insect communities on experimental mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris L.) plots along an urban gradient. Oecologia 113:269–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Denys C, Tscharntke T (2002) Plant–insect communities and predator–prey ratios in field margins, adjacent crop fields, and fallows. Oecologia 130:315–324Google Scholar
  14. Didham RK (1997) An overview of invertebrates responses to forest fragmentation. In: Watt AD, Stork NE, Hunter MD (eds) Forests and insects. Chapman & Hall, London, pp 303–320Google Scholar
  15. Didham RK, Ghazoul J, Stork NG, Davis AJ (1996) Insects in fragmented forests: a functional approach. Trends Ecol Evol 11:255–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Didham RK, Hammond PM, Lawton JH, Eggleton P, Stork NE (1998) Beetle species responses to tropical forest fragmentation. Ecol Monogr 68:295–323Google Scholar
  17. Didham RK, Watts CH, Norton DA (2005) Are systems with strong underlying abiotic regimes more likely to exhibit alternative stable states? Oikos 110:409–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dubbert M, Tscharntke T, Vidal S (1998) Stem-boring insects of fragmented Calamagrostis habitats: herbivore–parasitoid community structure and the unpredictability of grass shoot abundance. Ecol Entomol 23:271–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dunn RR (2004) Recovery of faunal communities during tropical forest regeneration. Conserv Biol 18:302–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fagan WF, Cantrell RS, Cosner C (1999) How habitat edges change species interactions. Am Nat 153:165–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fahrig L (2003) Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 34:487–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Forup ML, Memmott J (2005) The restoration of plant–pollinator interactions in hay meadows. Restor Ecol 13:265–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Golden DM, Crist TO (1999) Experimental effects of habitat fragmentation on old-field canopy insects: community, guild and species responses. Oecologia 118:371–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gratton C, Denno RF (2005) Restoration of arthropod assemblages in a Spartina salt marsh following removal of the invasive plant Phragmites australis. Restor Ecol 13:258–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Groom MJ (1998) Allee effects limit population variability of an annual plant. Am Nat 151:487–496CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Henle K, Davies K, Kleyer M, Margules C, Settele J (2004) Predictors of species sensitivity to fragmentation. Biodivers Conserv 13:207–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hobbs RJ, Norton DA (1996) Towards a conceptual framework for restoration ecology. Restor Ecol 4:93–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hoffmann BD, Andersen AN (2003) Responses of ants to disturbance in Australia, with particular reference to functional groups. Austral Ecol 28:444–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kaila L (2004) Phylogeny of the superfamily Gelechioidae (Lepidoptera: Ditrysia): an exemplar approach. Cladistics—Int J Willli Hennig Soc 20:303–340Google Scholar
  30. Klein BC (1989) Effects of forest fragmentation on dung and carrion beetle communities in Central Amazonia. Ecology 70:1715–1725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krauss J, Steffan-Dewenter I, Tscharntke T (2003) How does landscape context contribute to effects of habitat fragmentation on diversity and population density of butterflies? J Biogeogr 30:889–900CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Krauss J, Klein A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Tscharntke T (2004) Effects of habitat area, isolation, and landscape diversity on plant species richness of calcareous grasslands. Biodivers Conserv 13:1427–1439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kruess A (2003) Effects of landscape structure and habitat type on a plant–herbivore–parasitoid community. Ecography 26:283–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kruess A, Tscharntke T (1994) Habitat fragmentation, species loss, and biological control. Science 264:1581–1584PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kruess A, Tscharntke T (1999) Effects of habitat fragmentation on plant–insect communities. In: Ekbom B, Irwin M, Robert Y (eds) Interchanges of insects between agriculture and surrounding landscapes. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 53–71Google Scholar
  36. Kruess A, Tscharntke T (2000) Species richness and parasitism in a fragmented landscape: experiments and field studies with insects on Vicia sepium. Oecologia 122:129–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. de Lange PJ, Heenan PB, Clarkson BD, Clarkson BR (1999) Taxonomy, ecology and conservation of Sporadanthus (Restionaceae) in New Zealand. NZ J Bot 37:413–431Google Scholar
  38. Laurance WF, Bierregaard RO (1997) Tropical forest remnants. Ecology, management and conservation of fragmented communities. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  39. Lawton JH (1995) Population dynamic principles. In: Lawton JH, May RM (eds) Extinction rates. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 174–163Google Scholar
  40. Majer JD (1990) Rehabilitation of disturbed land: long-term prospects for the recolonisation of fauna. Proc Ecol Soc Aust 16:509–519Google Scholar
  41. Majer JD, Nichols OG (1998) Long-term recolonisation patterns of ants in Western Australian rehabilitated bauxite mines with reference to their use as indicators of restoration success. J Appl Ecol 35:161–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mortimer SR, Hollier JA, Brown VK (1998) Interactions between plant and insect diversity in the restoration of lowland calcareous grasslands in southern Britain. Appl Veg Sci 1:101–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mortimer SR, Booth RG, Harris SJ, Brown VK (2002) Effects of initial site management on the Coleoptera assemblages colonising newly established chalk grassland on ex-arable land. Biol Conserv 104:301–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Muller S, Dutoit T, Alard D, Grevilliot F (1998) Restoration and rehabilitation of species-rich grassland ecosystems in France: a review. Restor Ecol 6:94–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nichols OG, Nichols FM (2003) Long-term trends in faunal recolonization after bauxite mining in the Jarrah forest of Southwestern Australia. Restor Ecol 11:261–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Opperman JJ, Merenlender AM (2000) Deer herbivory as an ecological constraint to restoration of degraded riparian corridors. Restor Ecol 8:41–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Powell AH, Powell GVN (1987) Population dynamics of male euglossine bees in Amazonian forest fragments. Biotropica 19:176–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Reay SD, Norton DA (1999) Assessing the success of restoration plantings in a temperate New Zealand forest. Restor Ecol 7:298–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schipper L, Clarkson B, Vojvodic-Vukovic M, Webster R (2002) Restoring cut-over restiad peat bogs: a factorial experiment of nutrients, seed and cultivation. Ecol Eng 19:29–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schulke B, Waser NM (2001) Long-distance pollinator flights and pollen dispersal between populations of Delphinium nuttallianum. Oecologia 127:239–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Steffan-Dewenter I, Tscharntke T (1999) Effects of habitat isolation on pollinator communities and seed set. Oecologia 121:432–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Steffan-Dewenter I, Tscharntke T (2000) Butterfly community structure in fragmented habitats. Ecol Lett 3:449–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Steffan-Dewenter I, Munzenberg U, Tscharntke T (2001) Pollination, seed set and seed predation on a landscape scale. Proc Roy Soc Lond Ser B 268:1685–1690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Steffan-Dewenter I, Munzenberg U, Burger C, Thies C, Tscharntke T (2002) Scale-dependent effects of landscape context on three pollinator guilds. Ecology 83:1421–1432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Suding KN, Gross KL, Houseman GR (2004) Alternative states and positive feedbacks in restoration ecology. Trends Ecol Evol 19:46–53PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thomas CD (2000) Dispersal and extinction in fragmented landscapes. Proc R Soc Lond B 267:139–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tscharntke T (1992) Fragmentation of Phragmites habitats, minimum viable population size, habitat suitability, and local extinction of moths, midges, flies, aphids and birds. Conserv Biol 6:530–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tscharntke T, Brandl R (2004) Plant–insect interactions in fragmented landscapes. Annu Rev Entomol 49:405–430PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. VSN International (2002) GenStat Sixth Edition version Lawes Agricultural Trust, Rothamstead, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  60. Warren MS, Hill JK, Thomas JA, Asher J, Fox R, Huntley B, Roy DB, Telfer MG, Jeffcoate S, Harding P, Jeffcoate G, Willis SG, Greatorex–Davies JN, Moss D, Thomas CD (2001) Rapid responses of British butterflies to opposing forces of climate and habitat change. Nature 414:65–69PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wassenaar TD, Van Aarde RJ, Pimm SL, Ferreira SM (2005) Community convergence in disturbed subtropical dune forests. Ecology 86:655–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Watts CH, Gibbs GW (2002) Revegetation and its effect on the ground-dwelling beetle fauna of Matiu-Somes Island, New Zealand. Restor Ecol 10:96–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wiegand T, Revilla E, Moloney KA (2005) Effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on population dynamics. Conserv Biol 19:108–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Young TP (2000) Restoration ecology and conservation biology. Biol Conserv 92:73–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zabel J, Tscharntke T (1998) Does fragmentation of Urtica habitats affect phytophagous and predatory insects differentially? Oecologia 116:419–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Landcare ResearchHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations