Insects are a new threat to mid-latitude grassland ecosystems in Queensland
Mid-latitudes grasslands are increasingly threatened by pests such as the white-tailed buck beetle and cockroaches, according to research conducted by scientists at the University of Queensland and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Key points:The study, led by Dr Andrew Macdonald, is the first to document the impacts of the white and black buck beetle on the grasslands of mid- and high-latges, and the impact of cockroach invasion on the northern Queensland grassland ecosystemThe researchers say the new study suggests cockroaching can impact the grassland by altering the rate at which the beetle feeds and by causing erosion of the vegetation that provides habitat for the insect.
“It’s not just about cockroache invasion, it’s the impacts they have on the ecosystems,” said Dr Macdonald.
“They have an impact on the number of cockroach species in the grass, the size of the cockroach populations, the number and size of roach populations in the area, and so they affect the quality of the grass that’s there.”
If you look at the effects of the two species on the Queensland grasslands in terms of impacts, we found that there’s an impact, it has a negative impact on grasslands overall.
“Dr Macdonald said the study found that cockrocks were the primary drivers of the loss of grassland in the eastern Queensland town of Midlothian.”
In the northern suburbs, we saw the effects, we had more roach infestations, we lost about five per cent of our grassland area in a single year, compared to our previous year,” he said.”
So we’re seeing significant impacts in the northern suburb of Midland, which is the heartland of the Queensland ecosystem.
“These changes are really concerning for our grasslands because they are essential for the ability of the Australian grassland to provide an important habitat for species of insect.
We’ve already had a couple of examples of cockrot infestation in the region, and now we’ve seen these impacts in a large part of Queensland.”
Dr Greg Tromp, an expert in pest management at the Queensland University of Technology, said the impact was significant.
“This is a major loss of habitat, and it’s a loss of food and water for a lot of other species,” he explained.
“I think what this study really does is show that cockroach control is a very, very effective way of controlling cockrochy activity in the local environment.”
Dr Trompa said the findings should give people some reassurance that cockrot control efforts in the mid-lakes were working.
“We need to look at how we’re using insect control as an overall strategy for managing cockroch activity,” he added.
“For a lot, the impacts we see are in areas where we have some control measures in place, and those areas are generally in the lower and middle parts of the midland, where we can see significant effects.”
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