Wild pollinator communities of native woodlands and commercial almond plantations in a semi-arid Australian landscape

Manu E. Saunders

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    52 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Understanding how monocultures of introduced crop species interact with native ecosystems and wildlife in the surrounding landscape is vital for the ecological management of agroecosystems, and can have far-reaching benefits for biodiversity conservation and crop yields. Insects make essential contributions to ecosystem functions in all types of ecosystems and many functions are synergistically linked, like pollination and biological pest control. Thus, the conservation of invertebrate communities in agricultural landscapes is paramount. Although many studies have investigated pollinator communities using field crops (e.g. canola), more information is needed on how plantations of deciduous tree crops influence local insect communities, as these agroecosystems can create permanent spatial and temporal homogeneity across agricultural landscapes.I sampled potential wild pollinators in commercial almond plantations and native mallee vegetation in northwest Victoria, Australia, over two almond flowering seasons in late winter of 2010 and 2011. The aim of the study was to provide information on the abundance, richness and composition of insect pollinator communities at this time, which is the critical life stage for both almond trees (reproduction) and insects (emergence and reproduction). In particular, I focused on comparing patterns of insect community distribution relative to environmental attributes of mallee vegetation and almond plantations, with the goal of identifying how plantations might influence the conservation of wild insect communities, and thus enhance ecosystem service provision in commercial plantations.Overall, I found that potential wild pollinators were using almond plantations in the Victorian mallee during the almond flowering season.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • Luck, Gary, Co-Supervisor
    • Gurr, Geoffrey, Co-Supervisor
    • Mayfield, Margaret, Co-Supervisor, External person
    Award date01 Jul 2014
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publisher
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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