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Invertebrates in Terrestrial Environmental Assessment

Terrestrial invertebrates drive diverse ecological processes that underpin healthy terrestrial environments e.g. predation, pollination, decomposition, soil building. They are therefore ideal candidates for inclusion in environmental assessment and subsequent management plans, especially those involving rehabilitation. The latter has particular reference to the policy of environmental offsets and the concept of ecological equivalence. However, even though they represent 99% of terrestrial animal diversity, invertebrates are largely ignored in the ecological assessment process and the management of terrestrial ecosystems. Ants are the exception and are used regularly for measuring the progress of mine site rehabilitation.BAAM has been involved in a number of baseline terrestrial invertebrate surveys using a broad spectrum of select invertebrate groups such as ants, spiders, beetles, flies, bugs and land snails. These target groups were used as surrogates for all invertebrate diversity and have been shown elsewhere to be cost effective tools for rapid biodiversity assessment; reliable indicators of ecosystem function and key ecological processes; and effective biodiversity predictors. The results of these surveys (conducted for Brisbane City Council, Redland City Council, Consolidated Rutile Ltd and Queensland Energy Resources) were both encouraging and informative.

BAAM is now endeavouring to develop an assessment and monitoring methodology whereby a suite of select terrestrial invertebrates can be used to provide a reliable high fidelity environmental signal similar to the macroinvertebrate based biotic index used in the assessment of aquatic systems. This methodology would not replace, but supplement, current terrestrial survey and assessment methodologies.