Jessica Costall

Doctor of Philosophy, (Ecology)
Study Completed: 2013
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
The effects of restoration on the structure and function of litter invertebrate communities in New Zealand native forest remnants

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

New Zealand’s lowland native forests have been greatly reduced in extent, and the remaining forest is highly fragmented. However, we still have little knowledge of how forest remnants should be best managed to preserve native biodiversity, particularly invertebrate animals. Ms Costall investigated the structure and function of forest floor invertebrate communities within a range of lowland native forest remnants. She found that livestock grazing within remnants has a highly detrimental effect on their ecological condition. Remnants grazed by livestock had depauperate and highly variable invertebrate communities, although the effects on a key ecological function, litter decomposition, were more muted. Encouragingly, even very small remnants (<10 ha) can support invertebrate communities that are similar to large forest reserves, so long as they are fenced to exclude livestock. Ms Costall found that restoration actions such as fencing and possum control lead to a strong recovery of invertebrate communities over time.

Professor Russell Death
Associate Professor Maria Minor