Recent conceptual and technological solutions to biodiversity assessment allow large numbers of invertebrate specimens to be processed rapidly and provide researchers and practitioners with a unique tool for characterizing habitats. One application of 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 the efficacy of using invertebrates to assess and monitor ecological restoration following bush regeneration. Eight contiguous habitat patches within a suburb of northern Sydney, Australia, were selected to represent areas that had undergone different bush regeneration 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 from 20 genera. Analyses of the three taxonomic data sets, including two 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 the impact of each management technique on the habitat relative to undisturbed habitats; and (iii) characterization of sites could be achieved using abundance classes or binary counts of ant morphospecies, representing potential cost and time savings. The project duration was a total of three person weeks and cost less than US$3,000 (1999 prices) to complete. Measurement of invertebrate assemblages will provide a tool for both rapid assessment of management decisions and a means by which to implement adaptive management and restoration.
- adaptive management and restoration
- ecological monitoring and assessment
- invertebrate assemblages
- rapid biodiversity assessment
- taxonomic sufficiency