Ant community responses to farmland use and revegetation in a fragmented agricultural landscape

Ng, Katherina, Nowrouzi, Somayeh, Staunton, Kyran M., Barton, Philip, and Driscoll, Don A. (2021) Ant community responses to farmland use and revegetation in a fragmented agricultural landscape. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 311. 107316.

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Recent alarming losses of insects from agricultural landscapes in multiple countries around the world have brought into sharp focus the urgent need to identify ways to manage these landscapes to avoid further biodiversity decline. Identifying the drivers of insect declines, such as land use change, is critical to this effort. We examined ant communities at the interface between remnant vegetation patches and three adjoining farmland types (wheat crop, rested from cropping and restoration plantings) in a fragmented landscape in temperate Australia. We asked: do ant communities and occurrence of individual species differ between remnant patches and farmlands with more intensive farmland use (restoration plantings < rested farmlands < wheat crop)? We recorded 13,283 ants belonging to 102 species from 30 genera. Excluding 21 singletons, 27 species only occurred in remnant patches compared to ten species found only in farmlands. Ant community composition in wheat crop and rested farmlands significantly differed from their adjacent remnant patches and were more homogeneous. In contrast, ant communities from restoration plantings in farmland were not significantly different in composition from those in the adjacent remnant patch. The large, aggressive Australian meat ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus) showed significantly higher occurrence in the remnant patch than all farmland types, and we suggest that the absence of this strongly interacting species from farmlands may have contributed to biotic homogenisation. Our findings show that native vegetation provides crucial habitat resources for many ant species that are not provided by farmlands, and native plantings can, in some cases, ameliorate negative effects of farmland clearing over relatively short time scales (<7 years). Agricultural intensification that involves loss of remnant native vegetation or reduced revegetation will contribute to ongoing losses and changes to ant biodiversity in farming landscapes. However, replanting native vegetation can lead to rapid restoration, signifying a possible simple remedy to insect declines.

Item ID: 66877
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2305
Keywords: Ant diversity, Biodiversity conservation, Fallow, Matrix, Monitoring
Copyright Information: © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 30 May 2022 06:38
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420699 Public health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200499 Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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