We describe a case study evaluating the ecological impact of Bromus tectorum L. (cheatgrass) invasion following fire disturbance and the effectiveness of revegetation in improving ecological integrity in a degraded semi-arid shrub steppe system. The effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts was assessed from measurements of arthropod richness, vegetation and arthropod community composition, and ground cover characteristics in three habitats: undisturbed, burned and weed-infested (B. tectorum), and burned and rehabilitated with native and non-native vegetation. Arthropods were collected in each habitat using pitfall traps. Differences in arthropod richness were compared using rarefaction curves. Non-metric multidimensional scaling, and non-parametric multivariate statistical procedures including analysis of similarity and similarity percentages routines were used to compare arthropod and vegetation community composition and ground cover characteristics between habitats. Arthropod communities in the rehabilitated habitat were distinct from and intermediate to those observed in the undisturbed and weed-infested habitats. Rehabilitation in this instance resulted in an improvement in ecological integrity and perhaps an intermediate step on the way complete restoration. Arthropod richness, arthropod and vegetation community composition, and ground cover characteristics were all useful indicators of ecological integrity, but returned slightly different results. Assessing multiple variables yielded the most complete understanding of the habitats studied.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Gardner, Eric T., "Arthropod and Plant Communities as Indicators of Land Rehabilitation Effectiveness in a Semi-arid Shrub-steppe" (2008). All Theses and Dissertations. 1733.
land rehabilitation, ecological indicators, arthropod community