Long-term ant community responses to selective harvesting of timber from Spotted Gum (Corymbia variegata)-dominated forests in south-east Queensland

Authors

  • Cas Vanderwoude,

  • Lisa A. Lobry De Bruyn,

  • Alan P. N. House


  • This paper is based on the PhD research of Cas Vanderwoude (Ecosystem Management, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia) carried out in collaboration with Lisa A. Lobry de Bruyn (Ecosystem Management, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia) and Alan P. N. House (Queensland Forestry Research Institute, Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, D.P.I., Fraser Rd, Gympie, Qld 4570, Australia). The current address of the coordinating author (Cas Vanderwoude) is Queensland Forestry Research Institute, Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, D.P.I., Fraser Rd, Gympie, Qld 4570, Australia.

Abstract

Summary The conservation of biological diversity is a fundamental consideration in the management of production forests in eastern Australia. Invertebrate communities make up the bulk of diversity in these forests, yet few studies have been conducted to determine what impact, if any, timber harvesting may have on their structure, dynamics or diversity. We report here on a space-for-time study conducted in an open eucalypt production forest in south-east Queensland that investigated the long-term effects of selective timber harvesting on the ground-active ant community. Over a notional 30–40 year logging cycle, there were significant changes in the composition of ant functional groups, no significant changes to ant abundance and a weak trend to reduced ant species richness as time since harvesting increased. However, when ant community composition was compared with logging history and other environmental variables using a range of statistical tests, only small changes in ant community composition were attributable to timber harvesting. This suggested that the ant community was at least partially controlled by factors other than management history or the environmental variables measured in this study. The diversity, abundance and organization of ant communities is therefore unlikely to be detrimentally affected by selective harvesting of timber, as currently practiced in state-owned forests in south-east Queensland.

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