Plant and insect communities are being re-established in conservation areas

Conservation and revegetation of mixed landscapes of agriculture is helping re-establish plant and insect communities.

Managing our biodiversity and natural resources

Understanding ecological processes and organisms that support agriculture and native vegetation is important to their management as ecologically sustainable systems.

  • 16 February 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

Our research encompasses a diverse array of ecosystem services with an aim to better manage our biodiversity and improve the sustainable use of our natural resources.

Invertebrates and functional biodiversity

Researchers are exploring the role of insect communities in mixed landscapes of agriculture, remnant vegetation and replanted native vegetation.

The renowned naturalist, Professor EO Wilson, described invertebrates as 'the little creatures that run the world'.

Much of the research in this project deals with:

  • how they 'run it' and the magnitude of their effects
  • what happens to ecosystems when their diversity and abundance is altered
  • how land management practices can be designed to optimize their beneficial effects.

One key focus of the research is the role of insects as the major pollinators of plants, and the extent that natural habitat destruction has impacted on the interaction between insect pollinators and plants.

The partners in this project include:

  • The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, Australia
  • Victorian State Government Department of Sustainability, Melbourne.

Revegetation strategies

Australia has invested heavily in the revegetation of retired and often seriously degraded farmland.

Problems associated with the loss of deep rooted vegetation and the loss of habitat for native species are progressively being addressed by rural communities and conservation agencies.

CSIRO’s research will help provide a better understanding of the success of these revegetation initiatives to re-establish plant and insect communities and their role in the complex ecosystem.

Researchers are particularly interested in:

  • determining the time-scale that revegetated sites develop complex insect communities
  • the influence that these communities of plants and insects have on the health of soil
  • the availability of water for the natural environment.
    CSIRO's research aims to better manage our biodiversity and improve the sustainable use of our natural resources.

The partners in this project include:

  • New South Wales Environment Trust
  • Water for a Health Country Flagship.

Soil ecology

This research is enhancing our knowledge of the ecological and genetic interactions between plants, their root pathogens and beneficial microbes.

Understanding the population genetics and dynamics of soil-borne microbes increases our predictive capacity, providing insights on how to manipulate agricultural systems to avoid the build up of deleterious organisms, and increase those that are beneficial.

The information is being used to develop targeted disease control strategies to increase the sustainability of plant production systems and decrease environmental impacts in agricultural landscapes.

The partners in this project include:

  • Grains Research and Development Council
  • Cotton Research and Development Council.

Termites in ecosystems

Research has focused on the foraging biology and dynamics of the termite population in a colony, and their role in the ecosystem.

This work has greatly improved our understanding of the biology and behaviour of economically important termite species.

The knowledge gained is being applied in control and management of termites as beneficial soil engineers in productive landscapes.

De-registration in Australia of organochlorine-based chemicals used in termite control, has driven research into alternative systems such as the use of pathogens and natural, termite-derived products and baiting systems.

Detailed understanding of aspects of termite behaviour has been integral for the successful introduction of these new technologies.

Find out more about CSIRO's research on Biodiversity & Ecology.