Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Optimising restoration of coastal ecosystems using plant and insect indicators (#85)

Brittany Elliott 1 , Andrew D Olds 1 , Christopher J Henderson 1 , Alison Shapcott 1 2 , Ben L Gilby 1
  1. School of Science, Technology and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD, Australia
  2. Centre for Bioinnovation, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia

Coastal ecosystems are significantly impacted by human activities which reduce their extent, connectedness and condition, meaning increased demand for ecological restoration. Maximising ecological outcomes and cost effectiveness of restoration requires that plans be optimised by indexing habitat-forming species, developing target ecosystem conditions in concert with restoration site attributes, and maximising habitat value for key function-performing animals. In this study, we surveyed understorey plants, trees and insect/arachnid assemblages in coastal dunes at 20 sites across the urbanised Sunshine Coast, and 15 sites across the National Parks of Bribie and North Stradbroke Islands. Species distribution models (SDMs) were used to prioritise restoration sites and create optimised planting regimes for degraded sites for both urbanised systems and less impacted national parks. There were persistent effects of urbanisation on the structure of plant assemblages, and strong correlations with wetland, high tide lineĀ and elevation. Patterns of insect and arachnid taxa in coastal dunes were used to identify components of the assemblages as indicator taxa for prioritising potential restoration actions, and specifically tree plantings. Insects were higher at sites further from urbanisation and where native vegetation was dominant. Our approach of integrating quantitative ecological data provides a framework for setting dynamic restoration targets across landscapes.