Linking ecological function to species composition in ecological restoration: Seed removal by ants in recreated woodland
Article first published online: 21 MAY 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Ecological Society of Australia
Volume 34, Issue 7, pages 751–760, November 2009
How to Cite
LOMOV, B., KEITH, D. A. and HOCHULI, D. F. (2009), Linking ecological function to species composition in ecological restoration: Seed removal by ants in recreated woodland. Austral Ecology, 34: 751–760. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2009.01981.x
- Issue published online: 19 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 21 MAY 2009
- Accepted for publication October 2008.
- Cumberland Plain Woodland;
- Dillwynia sieberi;
- ecological restoration;
- Hardenbergia violacea;
- seed removal
Evaluations of ecological restoration typically focus on associating measures of structural properties of ecosystems (e.g. species diversity) with time since restoration efforts commenced. Such studies often conclude a failure to achieve restoration goals without examining functional performance of the organism assemblages in question. We compared diversity and composition of ant assemblages and the rates of seed removal by ants in pastures, 4- to 10-year old revegetated areas and remnants of Cumberland Plain Woodland, and an endangered ecological community in Sydney, Australia. Ant assemblages of forest remnant sites had significantly higher species richness, significantly different species composition and a more complex functional group structure in comparison with ant assemblages of pasture and revegetated sites, which did not differ significantly. However, the rates of seed removal by ants in revegetated sites were similar to those in forest remnants, with the rates in pasture sites being significantly lower. Approximately, one-third of all ant species were observed to remove seeds. Forest remnant sites had significantly different assemblages of seed removing ant species from those in pasture and revegetated sites. These results demonstrate that similar ant assemblages of unrestored and restored areas can function differently, depending on habitat context. Evaluation of restoration success by quantifying ecosystem structure and function offers more insights into ecosystem recovery than reliance on structural data alone.