Floodplain ants show a stronger response to an extensive flood than to variations in fallen-timber load

Gregory Horrocks, Shaun Cunningham, Dennis O’Dowd, Jim THOMSON, Ralph MAC NALLY

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding how species respond to differences in resource availability is critical to managing biodiversity under the increasing pressures associated with climate change and growing human populations. Over the last century, the floodplain forests of Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, have been much affected by intensive harvesting of timber and firewood, and increasingly stressed by river regulation and, recently, an extended drought. Fallen timber – logs and shed branches – is known to play a key role in the ecology of several important species on these floodplains. Here, we monitored the response of the ant assemblages of a floodplain forest along the Murray River to a large-scale (34 ha) experimental manipulation of fallen-timber load (0 to 80 t ha-1) over 4 years. The forest was subjected to an incidental, extensive flood that enabled us to examine how two important stressors (timber removal and river regulation) affect ant assemblages. Ants showed little response to the proximity of fallen timber within plots, prior to the flood, or to different loads among plots, unlike other floodplain biota. After the flood, both ant abundance and species richness increased and species composition changed. However, this increase in species richness after flooding was less pronounced in plots with higher amounts of fallen timber. Managing river red gum forest using a mosaic of flood regimes, more representative of historical conditions, is likely to be the most effective way to maintain and enhance the diversity of ants and other biota on these important floodplains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-528
Number of pages11
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume37
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

floodplains
ant
timber
floodplain
Formicidae
rivers
floodplain forest
species diversity
river
biota
wood logs
species richness
Eucalyptus camaldulensis
organisms
fuelwood
human population
logging
resource availability
river system
drought

Cite this

Horrocks, Gregory ; Cunningham, Shaun ; O’Dowd, Dennis ; THOMSON, Jim ; MAC NALLY, Ralph. / Floodplain ants show a stronger response to an extensive flood than to variations in fallen-timber load. In: Austral Ecology. 2012 ; Vol. 37. pp. 518-528.
@article{ef0f7baa70b24b7d8fe5e7f19f50b7bb,
title = "Floodplain ants show a stronger response to an extensive flood than to variations in fallen-timber load",
abstract = "Understanding how species respond to differences in resource availability is critical to managing biodiversity under the increasing pressures associated with climate change and growing human populations. Over the last century, the floodplain forests of Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, have been much affected by intensive harvesting of timber and firewood, and increasingly stressed by river regulation and, recently, an extended drought. Fallen timber – logs and shed branches – is known to play a key role in the ecology of several important species on these floodplains. Here, we monitored the response of the ant assemblages of a floodplain forest along the Murray River to a large-scale (34 ha) experimental manipulation of fallen-timber load (0 to 80 t ha-1) over 4 years. The forest was subjected to an incidental, extensive flood that enabled us to examine how two important stressors (timber removal and river regulation) affect ant assemblages. Ants showed little response to the proximity of fallen timber within plots, prior to the flood, or to different loads among plots, unlike other floodplain biota. After the flood, both ant abundance and species richness increased and species composition changed. However, this increase in species richness after flooding was less pronounced in plots with higher amounts of fallen timber. Managing river red gum forest using a mosaic of flood regimes, more representative of historical conditions, is likely to be the most effective way to maintain and enhance the diversity of ants and other biota on these important floodplains.",
keywords = "ants, biodiversity, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, fallen timber, flooding.",
author = "Gregory Horrocks and Shaun Cunningham and Dennis O’Dowd and Jim THOMSON and {MAC NALLY}, Ralph",
year = "2012",
doi = "10.1111/j.1442-9993.2011.02315.x",
language = "English",
volume = "37",
pages = "518--528",
journal = "Austral Ecology",
issn = "1442-9985",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

Floodplain ants show a stronger response to an extensive flood than to variations in fallen-timber load. / Horrocks, Gregory; Cunningham, Shaun; O’Dowd, Dennis; THOMSON, Jim; MAC NALLY, Ralph.

In: Austral Ecology, Vol. 37, 2012, p. 518-528.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Floodplain ants show a stronger response to an extensive flood than to variations in fallen-timber load

AU - Horrocks, Gregory

AU - Cunningham, Shaun

AU - O’Dowd, Dennis

AU - THOMSON, Jim

AU - MAC NALLY, Ralph

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - Understanding how species respond to differences in resource availability is critical to managing biodiversity under the increasing pressures associated with climate change and growing human populations. Over the last century, the floodplain forests of Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, have been much affected by intensive harvesting of timber and firewood, and increasingly stressed by river regulation and, recently, an extended drought. Fallen timber – logs and shed branches – is known to play a key role in the ecology of several important species on these floodplains. Here, we monitored the response of the ant assemblages of a floodplain forest along the Murray River to a large-scale (34 ha) experimental manipulation of fallen-timber load (0 to 80 t ha-1) over 4 years. The forest was subjected to an incidental, extensive flood that enabled us to examine how two important stressors (timber removal and river regulation) affect ant assemblages. Ants showed little response to the proximity of fallen timber within plots, prior to the flood, or to different loads among plots, unlike other floodplain biota. After the flood, both ant abundance and species richness increased and species composition changed. However, this increase in species richness after flooding was less pronounced in plots with higher amounts of fallen timber. Managing river red gum forest using a mosaic of flood regimes, more representative of historical conditions, is likely to be the most effective way to maintain and enhance the diversity of ants and other biota on these important floodplains.

AB - Understanding how species respond to differences in resource availability is critical to managing biodiversity under the increasing pressures associated with climate change and growing human populations. Over the last century, the floodplain forests of Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, have been much affected by intensive harvesting of timber and firewood, and increasingly stressed by river regulation and, recently, an extended drought. Fallen timber – logs and shed branches – is known to play a key role in the ecology of several important species on these floodplains. Here, we monitored the response of the ant assemblages of a floodplain forest along the Murray River to a large-scale (34 ha) experimental manipulation of fallen-timber load (0 to 80 t ha-1) over 4 years. The forest was subjected to an incidental, extensive flood that enabled us to examine how two important stressors (timber removal and river regulation) affect ant assemblages. Ants showed little response to the proximity of fallen timber within plots, prior to the flood, or to different loads among plots, unlike other floodplain biota. After the flood, both ant abundance and species richness increased and species composition changed. However, this increase in species richness after flooding was less pronounced in plots with higher amounts of fallen timber. Managing river red gum forest using a mosaic of flood regimes, more representative of historical conditions, is likely to be the most effective way to maintain and enhance the diversity of ants and other biota on these important floodplains.

KW - ants

KW - biodiversity

KW - Eucalyptus camaldulensis

KW - fallen timber

KW - flooding.

U2 - 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2011.02315.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2011.02315.x

M3 - Article

VL - 37

SP - 518

EP - 528

JO - Austral Ecology

JF - Austral Ecology

SN - 1442-9985

ER -