Insect Conservation and Australia’s Grasslands
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Australia’s varied grasslands have suffered massive losses and changes since European settlement, and those changes continue under increasingly intensive human pressures for development and agricultural production. The values of native grasslands for conservation of endemic native biodiversity, both flora and fauna, have led to strong interests in the protection of remaining fragments, especially near urban centres, and documentation of the insects and other inhabitants of grasslands spanning tropical to cool temperate parts of the country. Attention to conservation of grassland insects in Australia is relatively recent, but it is increasingly apparent that grasslands harbour many localised and ecologically specialised endemic species. Their conservation necessarily advances from very incomplete documentation, and draws heavily on lessons from the far better-documented grasslands elsewhere, most notably in the northern hemisphere, and undertaken over far longer periods. From those cases, and the extensive background to grassland management to harmonise conservation with production and amenity values through honing use of processes such as grazing, mowing and fire, the needs and priorities for Australia can become clearer, together with needs for grassland restoration at a variety of scales.
This book is a broad overview of conservation needs of grassland insects in Australia, drawing on the background provided elsewhere in the world on the responses to disturbances, and the ecological importance, of some key insect groups (notably Orthoptera, Hemiptera and Lepidoptera) to suggest how insect conservation in native, pastoral and urban grasslands may be advanced. The substantial references given for each chapter facilitate entry for non-entomologist grassland managers and stewards to appreciate the diversity and importance of Australia’s grassland insects, their vulnerabilities to changes, and the possibilities for conserving them and the wider ecological roles in which they participate.