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Keywords:

  • community composition;
  • Eucalyptus;
  • forestry;
  • insects;
  • ordination;
  • plantation;
  • species richness

Abstract  We examined the potential of forest plantations to support communities of forest-using insects when planted into an area with greatly reduced native forest cover. We surveyed the insect fauna of Eucalyptus globulus (Myrtaceae) plantations and native Eucalyptus marginata dominated remnant woodland in south-western Australia, comparing edge to interior habitats, and plantations surrounded by a pastoral matrix to plantations adjacent to native remnants. We also surveyed insects in open pasture. Analyses focused on three major insect orders: Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera. Plantations were found to support many forest-using insect species, but the fauna had an overall composition that was distinct from the remnant forest. The pasture fauna had more in common with plantations than forest remnants. Insect communities of plantations were different from native forest both because fewer insect species were present, and because they had a few more abundant insect species. Some of the dominant species in plantations were known forestry pests. One pest species (Gonipterus scutellatus) was also very abundant in remnant forest, although it was only recently first recorded in Western Australia. It may be that plantation forestry provided an ecological bridge that facilitated invasion of the native forest by this nonendemic pest species. Plantation communities had more leaf-feeding moths and beetles than remnant forests. Plantations also had fewer ants, bees, evanioid wasps and predatory canopy beetles than remnants, but predatory beetles were more common in the understory of plantations than remnants. Use of broad spectrum insecticides in plantations might limit the ability of these natural enemies to regulate herbivore populations. There were only weak indications of differences in composition of the fauna at habitat edges and no consistent differences between the fauna of plantations adjacent to remnant vegetation and those surrounded by agriculture, suggesting that there is little scope for managing biodiversity outcomes by choosing different edge to interior ratios or by locating plantations near or far from remnants.