Do landscape health indices reflect arthropod biodiversity status in the eucalypt woodlands of eastern Australia?

Authors

  • ALAN B. C. KWOK,

    1. Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia (Email: a.kwok@student.unsw.edu.au)
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  • DAVID J. ELDRIDGE,

    1. Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia (Email: a.kwok@student.unsw.edu.au)
    2. Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, c/- Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
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  • IAN OLIVER

    1. Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, c/- University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia
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Abstract

Ecosystem or landscape health indices are important tools for land managers. While strong predictable relationships between these indices and biotic diversity are often generalized, they are seldom validated. Here we use data from a semi-arid eastern Australian woodland to examine the relationships between arthropod community structure and two sets of landscape health indicators: landscape function analysis (LFA), and a terrestrial index of ecological integrity based on common vegetation metrics (structure, composition and function; SCF). Hierarchical partitioning revealed that the ability of LFA or SCF to account for variation in arthropod richness was low, with the variable of importance taxon-dependent. Similarly, multivariate analyses indicated relatively weak and inconsistent relationships between LFA and SCF indices and arthropod assemblage structure. Results obtained for additional habitat attributes commonly used in terrestrial vegetation monitoring were similar. Our study indicates that strong predictable relationships are rarely apparent, particularly for arthropods. This indicates that these indices have limited use as surrogates of arthropod biodiversity. These results are contrary to the past literature, highlighting the need for additional research and the development of a conceptual and empirical framework linking health indices and arthropod biodiversity. This is necessary to further the theoretical and practical application of these measurements in environmental management.

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