Contribution of paddock trees to the conservation of terrestrial invertebrate biodiversity within grazed native pastures

Ian Oliver, Sarina Pearce, Penelope J.M. Greenslade, David R. Britton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Paddock trees are a common feature in the agricultural landscapes of Australia. Recent studies have demonstrated the value of scattered paddock trees for soil fertility, native pasture plants and arboreal faunas; however, the degree to which scattered paddock trees contribute to the conservation of terrestrial invertebrate biodiversity within grazed landscapes remains unknown. We ask three questions: (i) Is there a difference between the terrestrial invertebrate assemblages found under paddock trees compared with surrounding grazed native pastures? (ii) Can gradients in soil and litter variables from the base of trees explain patterns in invertebrate assemblages? and (iii) Does the presence of scattered paddock trees have implications for the conservation of terrestrial invertebrate biodiversity within grazed native pastures? We used pitfall trapping and extraction from soil cores to sample the invertebrate assemblages under six New England Peppermint trees ("Eucalyptus nova-anglica" Deane and Maiden) and compared them with assemblages sampled from the open paddock. Formicidae and Collembola univariate and multivariate data were analysed along with a range of soil and litter variables. We found (i) significant differences in the assemblages of invertebrates under trees compared with surrounding grazed pastures; (ii) that most soil and litter variables revealed gradients away from tree bases and these variables explained significant variation in invertebrate assemblages; and (iii) more native invertebrates and more species of invertebrates were found under trees compared with the surrounding pastures. We discuss the relationships between paddock trees, the ground and soil environments and the invertebrate communities that inhabit these environments, and conclude with a discussion of the future for paddock trees and the biota supported by them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords

  • conservation
  • invertebrate
  • paddock tree
  • tree decline

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