Ants as Indicators of Restoration Success Following Mining in Northern Australia

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
Mine site restoration, involving the re-establishment of original ecosystems, is a far greater challenge than revegetation, which simply aims to stabilise the site and to give it a green appearance. One of the challenges is to establish a simple yet effective measure of restoration success. A potentially useful approach is to focus on particular groups of plants or animals which are likely to provide a general indication of the state of the ecosystem in which they occur. Ants have been used extensively by the mining industry in this context, particularly in northern Australia. Ants are likely to be useful bioindicators because of their general importance in the Australian environment, and because of the many linkages they have with other parts of the ecosystem. Moreover, ant community structure responds to stress and disturbance in predictable ways, and therefore provides an interpretable measure of ecosystem change. This is illustrated by a study of ant recolonisation at Ranger uranium mine. However, the extent to which ants reflect the responses of other ecosystem components is poorly documented. This is currently the subject of a collaborative project between OSS and CSIRO.
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