Indexed on: 01 Mar '06Published on: 01 Mar '06Published in: Biological Invasions
In coastal areas of Australia, there are extensive infestations of the environmental weed Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata (bitou bush). This study looked at the impact of long-term infestations on the abundance and assemblage composition of leaf litter invertebrates. Assemblages were compared in weed infested and native shrublands along the New South Wales coastline over 12 months. The total abundance was not significantly reduced in the weedy habitat but the abundance of mites, thrips, spiders, ants, and centipedes was reduced at many sites. The invertebrate assemblages also differed between habitats, with the C. monilifera supporting a lower diversity of beetles. However, the millipedes, amphipods, earthworms, pseudoscorpions and isopods appeared to respond positively to the invasion, occurring in higher abundance and detected more frequently in the weedy areas. This has been partially attributed to a change in microclimate within the C. monilifera infestations. It is generally moister and darker, which these invertebrates tend to prefer. Secondly, C. monilifera produces less leaf litter of higher quality, and possibly higher palatability than the native sclerophyllous vegetation, which may encourage species that consume litter.