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Individual study: The impact on arthropod assemblages of herbicide application for control of bitou bush Chrysanthemoides monilifera at Myall Lakes National Park, New South Wales, Australia

Published source details

Wilkie L., Cassis G. & Gray M. (2007) The effects on terrestrial arthropod communities of invasion of a coastal heath ecosystem by the exotic weed bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata L.). Biological Invasions, 9, 477-498


Bitou bush Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata is a major invasive weed of coastal southeast Australia. The main focus of this study investigated the impacts of habitat invasion by bitou upon selected arthropod assemblages. At one study site, herbicide application for bitou control was undertaken and gave an opportunity to assess any secondary impacts on arthropods, as summarised here.

Four localities in coastal New South Wales (NSW) were selected to assess the impacts of habitat invasion by bitou on arthropod communities. About midway through sampling (on 17 July 1997), a site within Myall Lakes National Park (one of four study localities) was subject to aerial application of glyphosphate (Roundup) herbicide, part of an ongoing NSW Dept of Agriculture bitou bush control program; spraying had also occurred in June 1995. An examination of effects herbicide application upon selected arthropod taxa.

Arthropod sampling was conducted between November 1996 and June 1998. Sampling for ground arthropods was conducted by pitfall trapping. Arboreal sampling was conducted using standardised beat sampling. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), beetles (Coleoptera), true bugs (Heteroptera) and spiders (Araneae) were identified to species. Data on structure and composition of vegetation were also collected to record any changes resulting from the herbicide application.

There was little evidence of changes in species richness or abundance associated with herbicide application on the selected arthropod assemblages investigated. Data also revealed little change in structure or composition of vegetation as a result of herbicide application.

There was some minor evidence of compositional change in arthropod assemblages associated with herbicide application, but the species–environment relationship was weak. However, for one group, epigaeic Coleoptera (i.e. those beetles that lives and/or forage primarily above ground), composition in the periods before and after the application of herbicide markedly differed; the change predominantly involved members of the family Staphylinidae (the most diverse and abundant element of the Coleoptera fauna).

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