New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2005) 29(1): 129- 135

Ground invertebrate fauna associated with native shrubs and exotic pasture in a modified rural landscape, Otago, New Zealand

Short Communication
José G. B. Derraik 1,4*
Catherine G. Rufaut 2
Gerard P. Closs 3
Katharine J. M. Dickinson 1
  1. Ecology, Conservation & Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Botany, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. Department of Geology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. Ecology, Conservation & Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
  4. Current address: Ecology and Health Research Centre, Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Otago, P.O. Box 7343, Wellington, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

This study examined whether the diversity and relative abundance of ground-dwelling invertebrates changed in relation to type of vegetation cover. Invertebrate taxon diversity and relative abundance were assessed with pitfall traps placed under the native shrubs Olearia bullata and Coprosma propinqua, and in surrounding patches of exotic pasture. A total of 1935 invertebrates and at least 152 invertebrate taxa were recorded from 49 pitfall traps. The number of native taxa was c.63% of all taxa recorded, whereas exotic invertebrates represented only c.9%. The other c.28% were of undetermined origin. Taxon richness and relative abundance under the two shrub species were statistically similar, although all mean values (except for Coleoptera) were higher for traps set beneath C. propinqua. In contrast, taxon richness and relative abundance were significantly higher in the exotic pasture than under either of the shrub species. The same pattern was evident for exotic invertebrates and the relative abundance of native invertebrates, and for some of the most speciose orders. The data indicate that nearly half of native taxa occurred only under native shrubs. In contrast, 7 out of 12 exotic species were found in all three vegetation types, and all but one of them were recorded at least in exotic pasture. We conclude that the value of locally-modified and patchy vegetation cannot be underestimated for its potential in providing native biodiversity reservoirs for New Zealand’s native invertebrate fauna.