Invertebrate Ecology Services
AMBS has been involved in a number of innovative research, monitoring and interpretative projects throughout Australia, including partnerships with mining interests and collaboration on commercial projects with Australian Museum terrestrial invertebrate staff. Some examples of recent projects undertaken by the Australian Museum are presented below.
The Australian Museum is renowned for its excellence in biological and heritage research in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The Museum employs over 90 research scientists and collection managers who are continually producing benchmark research and publications in a number of fields. The Museum's resources include more than 20 scientific and technical staff working on terrestrial invertebrates generally and specialists in entomology (insects, arachnology (spiders) and malacology (snails).
Selected Key Projects
Darling Riverine Plains Bioregion Scoping Study, NSW
The Australian Museum carried out a study of the Darling Riverine Plains Bioregion for the NSW Biodiversity Strategy. A broad-scale invertebrate sampling program, stratified by land tenure and vegetation type, was conducted throughout the Bioregion. The project demonstrated the value of sampling terrestrial invertebrates for biodiversity assessment, discovered new species and recorded range extensions for a number of species. The key outcome of the project was a baseline inventory of terrestrial invertebrates from selected taxonomic groups (e.g. ants, beetles, spiders) that will enable comparisons with data that may be collected in the future.
Nandewar Bioregion Scoping Study, NSW
The Australian Museum carried out a study of the Nandewar Bioregion for the NSW Biodiversity Strategy. The project provided a baseline inventory of terrestrial invertebrates from selected taxonomic groups in the Nandewar Bioregion. The data collected allow for comparisons with data that may be collected in the future, enabling examination of patterns in the fauna that may result from environmental changes.
Biodiversity patterns associated with landscape structural elements were investigated as part of this project and found evidence that the composition of the fauna varied with vegetation type and landscape. Over 530 species of invertebrate were collected and identified, including 10 new species, species that were previously rare in museum collections and species for which no ecological information previously existed.
Biodiversity Monitoring of the Coleambally Irrigation Area, NSW
A program for monitoring biodiversity in remnant native vegetation communities throughout the 80,000 ha Coleambally Irrigation Area was designed and implemented by the Australian Museum Business Services Ecology unit in collaboration with Australian Museum invertebrate research staff and botanists from Charles Sturt University. The project is ongoing and samples invertebrates, vertebrates and vegetation across 48 sample sites, with sites selected to cover a range of soil salinity levels, water table depths, vegetation and soil types and fauna and flora habitats. The project aims to assess diversity and abundance over time and prepare recommendations for management.
Invertebrates are particularly important in monitoring programs as they represent the majority of biodiversity and they respond quickly to change. The BugWise project was developed in 2004 as a series of cost-effective monitoring tools that can be easily used by the community to evaluate the biodiversity outcomes of ecosystem rehabilitation projects. Once established, the Australian Museum and the Coal and Allied Community Trust entered into a partnership to pilot BugWise in the Upper Hunter region. Through BugWise, the Australian Museum developed tools, resources and outreach components to reach users and to test and refine the biodiversity monitoring methods with stakeholders. The initial pilot phase resulted in a number of deliverables, including:
- BugWise website
- Workshop series
- Identification guides and user manuals
- Training DVD of the Web2Spider method
BioMaps / Pilbara Biodiversity Survey, WA
This award-winning project was undertaken in partnership with Rio Tinto. The project investigated the biodiversity and production values of the Pilbara Region of WA, in two phases. One of the major deliverables was the development of a BioMaps tool to aid in accessing and analysing biodiversity data.
In Phase 1 existing information on terrestrial invertebrates within the Pilbara region was compiled and reviewed and a number of key research questions were developed to investigate the relationship between invertebrate diversity, landscape properties and human interventions in the Pilbara region.
In Phase 2 the scientific questions were tested in a series of major biodiversity surveys of the Pilbara region. As part of the assessment of biodiversity on production lands in the Pilbara, aspects such as climatic variables, grazing pressure, arthropods and habitat complexity, and the effect of altitude on insect diversity and endemicity were investigated, among others.
Glenn Muir , Acting Senior Project Manager