Invertebrate biodiversity and ecosystem function in northern Australia

Invertebrates, such as ants, play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystem function.

The Challenge

Invertebrates play a critical role

Most Australian ant species do not have scientific names, and it is likely that thousands have not even been collected.

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Invertebrates are the 'backbone of biodiversity', representing the vast majority of the world's animal species. They are also the 'little creatures that run the world' playing critical roles in the functioning of ecosystems.

Ants represent greater than 20 per cent of terrestrial faunal biomass globally, and are the most important invertebrate group in northern Australia. Ant diversity in Australia is exceptionally high by world standards, particularly in arid environments, where more than 100 ant species commonly occur within a single hectare.

Our Response

Understanding ants in northern Australia

Ants are often used as indicators of off-site impacts of mining, and of the sustainability of fire and grazing management in savanna grasslands.

By understanding ants we can better understand the ecosystems of northern Australia.

CSIRO's research seeks to improve understanding of:

  • the systematics and biogeography of the Australian ant fauna
  • ant community dynamics
  • the use of ants as bio-indicators in land management
  • the ecology and management of invasive species.


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