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The Little Things that Run the City: How do Melbourne’s green spaces support insect biodiversity and ecosystem health?

Authors:
The Little Things that Run the City
How do Melbourne’s green spaces
support insect biodiversity and
promote ecosystem health?
Luis Mata, Christopher D. Ives, Georgia E. Garrard, Ascelin Gordon,
Anna Backstrom, Kate Cranney, Tessa R. Smith, Laura Stark, Daniel
J. Bickel, Saul Cunningham, Amy K. Hahs, Dieter Hochuli, Mallik
Malipatil, Melinda L Moir, Michaela Plein, Nick Porch, Linda
Semeraro, Rachel Standish, Ken Walker, Peter A. Vesk, Kirsten Parris
and Sarah A. Bekessy
The Little Things that Run the City – How do Melbourne’s green
spaces support insect biodiversity and promote ecosystem health?
Report prepared for the City of Melbourne, November 2015
Coordinating authors
Luis Mata
Christopher D. Ives
Georgia E. Garrard
Ascelin Gordon
Sarah Bekessy
Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group
Centre for Urban Research
School of Global, Urban and Social Studies
RMIT University
124 La Trobe Street Melbourne 3000
Contributing authors
Anna Backstrom, Kate Cranney, Tessa R. Smith, Laura Stark, Daniel J. Bickel, Saul
Cunningham, Amy K. Hahs, Dieter Hochuli, Mallik Malipatil, Melinda L Moir,
Michaela Plein, Nick Porch, Linda Semeraro, Rachel Standish, Ken Walker, Peter A.
Vesk and Kirsten Parris.
Please cite as:
The Little Things that Run the City – How do Melbourne’s green spaces support insect biodiversity and promote
ecosystem health? (2015) Mata L, Ives CD, Garrard GE, Gordon A, Backstrom A, Cranney K, Smith TR, Stark L,
Bickel DJ, Cunningham S, Hahs AK, Hochuli D, Malipatil M, Moir ML, Plein M, Porch N, Semeraro L, Standish R,
Walker K, Vesk PA, Parris K, Bekessy SA. Report prepared for the City of Melbourne.
Cover artwork by Kate Cranney
‘Melbourne in a Minute Scavenger’ (Ink and paper on paper, 2015)
This artwork is a little tribute to a minute beetle. We found the brown minute scavenger beetle (Corticaria sp.) at
so many survey plots for the Little Things that Run the City project that we dubbed the species ‘Old Faithful’. I’ve
recreated the map of the City of Melbourne within the beetle’s body. Can you trace the outline of Port Phillip Bay?
Can you recognise the shape of your suburb? Next time you’re walking in a park or garden in the City of Melbourne,
keep a keen eye out for this ubiquitous little beetle.
All photographs by Luis Mata unless otherwise stated. These Creative-Commons licensed photos are available at
https://www.ickr.com/photos/dingilingi/.
The nal version of this report was nished the 20 of November 2015.
Anna Backstrom Interdisciplinary Conservation
Science Research Group, Centre for Urban
Research, School of Global, Urban and Social
Studies, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia.
anna.backstrom@rmit.edu.au
Sarah A. Bekessy Interdisciplinary Conservation
Science Research Group, Centre for Urban
Research, School of Global, Urban and Social
Studies, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia.
sarah.bekessy@rmit.edu.au
Daniel J. Bickel Entomology, Australian Museum
6 College Street, Sydney NSW 2010 Australia.
danb@austmus.gov.au
Kate Cranney Interdisciplinary Conservation
Science Research Group, Centre for Urban
Research, School of Global, Urban and Social
Studies, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia.
kcranney@student.unimelb.edu.au
Saul Cunningham CSIRO, Box 1700, Canberra,
ACT 2601, Australia
saul.cunningham@csiro.au
Georgia E. Garrard Interdisciplinary Conservation
Science Research Group, Centre for Urban
Research, School of Global, Urban and Social
Studies, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia.
georgia.garrard@rmit.edu.au
Contributors
Ascelin Gordon Interdisciplinary Conservation
Science Research Group, Centre for Urban
Research, School of Global, Urban and Social
Studies, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia.
ascelin.gordon@rmit.edu.au
Amy K. Hahs Australian Research Centre
for Urban Ecology (ARCUE), Royal Botanic
Gardens Victoria, c/o School of BioSciences, The
University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC 3010.
hahsa@unimelb.edu.au
Dieter Hochuli School of Biological Sciences,
The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006,
Australia.
dieter.hochuli@sydney.edu.au
Christopher D. Ives Faculty of Sustainability,
Leuphana University Lüneburg, Scharnhorststraße
1, Lüneburg 21335, Germany.
ives@leuphana.de
Mallik Malipatil Department of Economic
Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience, 5 Ring
Road, La Trobe University, Bundoora VIC 3083,
Australia.
Mallik.Malipatil@ecodev.vic.gov.au
Luis Mata Interdisciplinary Conservation Science
Research Group, Centre for Urban Research,
School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT
University, 124 La Trobe Street, Melbourne 3000,
Victoria, Australia.
luis.mata@rmit.edu.au
Melinda L Moir School of Plant Biology,
University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy,
Crawley 6009, Western Australia, Australia
melinda.moir@uwa.edu.au
Kirsten Parris School of Ecosystem and Forest
Sciences, The University of Melbourne Burnley
Campus, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond, Victoria
3121, Australia.
k.parris@unimelb.edu.au
Michaela Plein Centre of Excellence for
Environmental Decisions, School of BioSciences,
University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Victoria,
Australia.
michaela.plein@gmx.de
Nick Porch School of Life and Environmental
Sciences, Melbourne Burwood Campus, Deakin
University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood
3125, Victoria, Australia.
nicholas.porch@deakin.edu.au
Linda Semeraro Department of Economic
Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources,
Biosciences Research Division, 5 Ring Road, La
Trobe University, Bundoora VIC 3083, Australia.
Linda.Semeraro@dpi.vic.gov.au
Tessa R. Smith Interdisciplinary Conservation
Science Research Group, Centre for Urban
Research, School of Global, Urban and Social
Studies, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia.
smith.tessa.r@gmail.com
Rachel Standish School of Veterinary and Life
Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South Street,
Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.
R.Standish@murdoch.edu.au
Laura Stark Interdisciplinary Conservation
Science Research Group, Centre for Urban
Research, School of Global, Urban and Social
Studies, RMIT University, 124 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia.
laura.stark@student.rmit.edu.au
Peter A. Vesk School of BioSciences, University of
Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Victoria, Australia.
pvesk@unimelb.edu.au
Ken Walker Science Department, Museum
Victoria, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton, Victoria 3053,
Australia.
kwalker@museum.vic.gov.au
The Little Things that Run the City has been a truly collaborative project.
First and foremost, we are grateful to the City of Melbourne for co-funding this project, and for their
ongoing support and enthusiasm. We’d especially like to thank Ian Shears, Yvonne Lynch and Lingna
Zhang from the Urban Ecology and Urban Forest Team. We are looking forward to continue working
with you.
We would also like to acknowledge the support of funding from RMIT University’s Strategic Projects
in Urban Research (SPUR) Fund, the National Environmental Scientic Programme - Clean Air and
Urban Landscapes Hub (NESP - CAUL) and the Australian Research Council - Centre of Excellence for
Environmental Decisions (CEED).
Thank you to the volunteer eld assistants–namely Estíbaliz Palma, Michelle Freeman, David Duncan
and Xavier Francoeur–who kindly join us in our search for insects.
We are grateful to Jeff Shimeta, David Heathcote and Shannon Fernandes from RMIT University’s
Applied Sciences Lab for providing the laboratory workspace and equipment necessary to undertake
the insect sorting and identication phase of this project.
A sincere thank you to Alan Andersen and Timothy New for generously providing help with species
identication and advice on species biology and ecology.
Acknowledgements
We are grateful to the many enthusiastic volunteers who identied insect species from photographs
uploaded to BowerBird, the Museum Victoria’s citizen science website. Particular thanks to Ethan
Beaver, Matt Campbell, Darren Carmen, Graeme Cocks, Tony Daley, Ken Harris, Daniel Heald, Martin
Lagerwey, Leuba Ridgeway and Stephen Thorpe for their assistance.
The Museum Victoria and the Entomological Society of Victoria contributed to the success of the 2014
Melbourne BioBlitz. Special thanks to Patrick Honan, who help us conduct the BioBlitz light trapping
surveys.
We’d also like to thank Chris Cole and Peter Symes from the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens
(RBG), for their support and on-ground assistance while undertaking eldwork in the gardens.
A sincere thank you to artist Linda Tegg, for allowing us to conduct insect surveys of your ‘Grasslands’
art installation at the State Library of Victoria (SLV). Thanks to John Delpratt, horticulturist from the
University of Melbourne, and Linda Wheeler from the SLV, for facilitating our involvement.
Finally, thank you Matthew Selinske from RMIT University’s Interdisciplinary Conservation Science
Research Group for proong the nal version of this report.
1 The little frequently asked questions, 1
2 The little things that run the city, 5
3 Insect biodiversity of the City of Melbourne, 15
4 Urban green space sites, 37
5 Habitat types, 53
6 Insect orders, 67
7 Ecological interactions, 89
8 Ecological processes and ecosystem services, 99
9 Recommendations for management and practice, 105
References, 109
Appendix 1 Species data, 119
Appendix 2 Methodological approach, 183
Contents
1
Where did the project take place?
The study area for the present project was the City
of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia). Specically
the targeted plant-insect interactions survey was
conducted in the following eleven public green
space sites: Argyle Square, Canning/Neill Street
Reserve, the area of Carlton Gardens south of the
Royal Exhibition Building, the combined areas
of Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens, the
temporary ‘Grasslands’ Installation that greened
the forecourt of the State Library of Victoria during
October-November 2014, Lincoln Square, Princes
Park, Royal Park, the ornamental beds of the State
Library of Victoria, Westgate Park and Women’s
Peace Gardens. The following green space sites
were also surveyed but are not reported here:
Birrarung Marr’s owering meadow, Gardiner
Reserve, Garrard Street Reserve, Murchison Square,
Pleasance Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens,
Systems Garden and University Square. The project
also includes insect data from the 2014 Melbourne
BioBlitz, which took place in the Carlton Gardens,
Royal Park, Westgate Park and Fitzroy Gardens, and
from the Atlas of Living Australia, which includes
insect records from multiple locations within the
City of Melbourne.
When did the project take place?
The project started in October 2014 with the insect
survey of the State Library of Victoria ‘Grasslands’
Installation and the State Library of Victoria
ornamental beds. The insect survey of the 19 public
green space sites took place between January
and March 2015. Insect species were sorted and
identied from April to September 2015. This report
was started in mid-September 2015. We anticipate
that insect sorting and identication will continue
Chapter 1
The little frequently asked questions
2
until April 2016, and that a nal report should be
ready by June 2016.
How were insects sampled?
Information on the presence of different insects was
collected by either direct observation or sweep-
netting. Our survey protocol explicitly avoided
collecting the immature stages of species (eg,
caterpillars), and a considerable effort was put into
minimising the number of adult insect specimens
collected.
How many insect species have been recorded in
the City of Melbourne?
As many as 1,351 insect species have been recorded
in the City of Melbourne. They are represented by
834 genera, 215 families and 16 orders.
Which insect orders were found in the City of
Melbourne?
Sixteen insect orders were collected in the City of
Melbourne: Blattodea (cockroaches and termites),
Coleoptera (beetles), Dermaptera (earwigs), Diptera
(ies, midges and mosquitoes), Ephemeroptera
(mayies), Hemiptera (true bugs), Hymenoptera
(wasps, bees and ants), Lepidoptera (butteries and
moths), Mantodea (mantis), Neuroptera (lacewings),
Odonata (dragonies and damselies), Orthoptera
(grasshoppers and crickets), Psocoptera (bark lice),
Siphonaptera (eas), Thysanoptera (thrips) and
Trichoptera (caddisies).
Which sites had the highest insect biodiversity?
Royal Park had the highest species richness, with
202 different insect species. The second most
species rich site was Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens (112
species), followed by Princes Park (94 species) and
Westgate Park (72 species).
Which habitat types had the highest insect
biodiversity?
The mid-storey habitat type had the highest species
richness, with 166 insect species recorded in the
targeted survey across all sites. Grassland and tree
habitat types had 126 and 98 species, respectively.
Panel 1 Native bee pollinating non-native plant (opposite page)
A native bee in the genus Megachile collecting nectar and pollen from
a non-native Asteraceae.
3
4
Lawn had the lowest species richness, with only
42 insect species.
What is the most common insect in the City of
Melbourne?
The most common species was a beetle in the
genus Corticaria (Coleoptera: Latridiidae). These
beetles are referred to as minute brown scavenger
beetles. This species was collected in all sites, in
the four studied habitat types and in association
with 50 different plant species.
Were non-native insect species recorded in the
City of Melbourne?
Non-native insect species recorded in the targeted
survey included the cabbage white buttery Pieris
rapae, diamondback moth Plutella xylostella,
elm leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola, European
honey bee Apis mellifera, European wasp Vespula
germanica and Argentine ant Linepithema humile.
What benets do insects deliver to people in the
City of Melbourne?
Insect species occurring in the City of Melbourne
deliver at least four benets to its city-dwellers:
biological pest control, soil fertility, pollination
of crop and ornamental plants (Panel 1), and
persistence of plants that are naturally dispersed
by ants. Insects may also provide food (eg, honey
and lerps).
5
This project has been inspired by the environmental
conservationist Edward O. Wilson’s famous quote
introduced above. The quote was part of an address
given by E.O. Wilson (Box 2.1) at the opening of
the invertebrate exhibit of the National Zoological
Park (Washington, D.C., USA, on May 7, 1987). It
later appeared in writing in the rst volume of the
journal Conservation Biology (Wilson 1997). The
key objective of Wilson’s address was to stress the
urgent need to recognise how important insects
and other invertebrates are for humanity. Almost 30
years ago, he was keen to see that efforts aimed at
the conservation of biodiversity were beginning to
also include non-vertebrate animals. In his words:
Chapter 2
The Little things that run the city
“…let me say a word on behalf of these little things that run the world”
Edward O. Wilson
A hundred years ago few people thought of
saving any kind of animal or plant. The circle
of concern has expanded steadily since, and
it is just now beginning to encompass the
invertebrates. For reasons that have to do
with almost every facet of human welfare, we
should welcome this new development.
With the present work we aim to expand this circle
so that it may also encompass the conservation
of insect and other invertebrates in urban
environments. We are driven by a will to ‘say a
word on behalf of the little things that run the city’.
With more than one million described extant
species, insects (Panels 2a and 2b) represent the
6
most diversied animal taxa on planet Earth (Stork
2007, Adler and Foottit 2009). Unsurprisingly,
insects account for as much as 66% of all known
animals (Zhang 2011). The core importance to
humanity, however, does not reside alone in their
diversity, but in the ecological roles that they play
in structuring mutualistic and trophic networks in
almost all terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems
throughout the biosphere (Waldbauer 2003,
Bascompte and Jordano 2007, Ings et al. 2009,
Scudder 2009). Moreover, through their capacity to
structure and fertilise soils, disperse seeds, pollinate
owers, regulate weed and pest populations, and
provide food, insects are arguably the World’s most
important contributors of biodiversity-delivered
ecosystem services (Kremen and Chaplin-Kremer
2007, Straub et al. 2008, Prather et al. 2013).
Although cities can have detrimental impacts
on certain plants, animals and native habitats,
rich biodiversity is known to exist in urban
environments and contributes substantial benets
to human inhabitants (Aronson et al. 2014). In
particular, maintaining functioning biodiverse
urban ecosystems can substantially improve human
health and well-being (Fuller et al. 2007, Jorgensen
and Gobster 2010, Dean et al. 2011, Keniger et al.
2013), and contribute to climate change mitigation
and adaptation (Secretariat of the Convention
on Biological Diversity 2012). Responsible and
efcient stewardship of urban biodiversity by city
governments therefore can greatly improve local,
regional and global sustainability (Elmqvist et al.
2013).
Insects are a critical component of urban
biodiversity (Sattler et al. 2011, Mata 2013,
Threllfall et al. 2015) and the ecological functions
they perform within and beyond the boundaries
of cities translate into a plethora of ecosystem
services (Losey and Vaughan 2006, Kremen and
Chaplin-Kremer 2007, Straub et al. 2008, Prather
et al. 2013, Benett and Lovell 2014, Baldock et al.
2015) and disservices (Dunn 2010, Rust and Su
2012) that are delivered constantly to city-dwellers.
Presently however, the paucity of data on the
diversity and ecological roles of insects in urban
ecosystems is hindering progress in ecology and
conservation science at the country, continental
and planetary scales (Stork 2007, Cranston 2010,
New and Yen 2012, New and Samways 2014),
as well as hindering the sustainable design of
7
Edward Osborne Wilson (Figure I) is a distinguished
biologist, ecologist, conservationist and author. He is
Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus in
Entomology for the Department of Organismic and
Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.
Born in 1929 in Alabama, Wilson had an early interest in
nature and the outdoors. By eleven he was determined
to become an entomologist. A war time shortage of
entomological pins led him to focus on ants, which
could be kept in glass vials. At age 18 he began a full
study of the ants of Alabama. After studying biology at
University of Alabama, we went on to research ants at
Harvard University. His PhD enabled him to undertake
expeditions overseas, where he collected ants from
across the tropics – from Cuba and Mexico to Australia
and the South Pacic.
Wilson is now considered the world’s leading expert
in myrmecology, the study of ants. His contribution to
science is wide reaching. He helped discover the ability
of insects communicate chemically, via pheromones,
and described the complex caste system of ants and other
social insects. He developed a number of fundamental
ecological theories, including island biogeography,
sociobiology and biophilia.
Wilson is an esteemed science communicator and a
prolic writer: his oeuvre includes more than 20 books,
a number of which are New York Times bestsellers.
Along with a host of scientic awards, he has won the
Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction twice.
Above all, E. O. Wilson has inspired people’s interest in
the world of insects. As he says, ‘I had a bug period like
every kid. I just never outgrew mine’.
Figure I Edward O. Wilson
A photograph of Edward O. Wilson taken in 2003 at his ofce
in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.
(Source: Jim Harrison, Public Library of Science).
Box 2.1 Edward O. Wilson
8
Panel 2a Diversity of insect life (opposite page)
1. Bumblebee (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
2. Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
3. Long-horned beetle (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)
4. Stink bug (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)
5. Hawk Moth (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae)
6. Grasshopper (Orthoptera)
7. Hunchback y (Diptera: Acroceridae)
8. Stick insect (Phasmatodea)
9. Dragony (Odonata)
Photos from different locations in Australia, the Iberian
Peninsula and Southeast Asia.
1
2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
urban landscapes. There is therefore a great need
for research into the insect biodiversity of urban
environments for both scientic advancement and
urban sustainability practice.
The present insect ecology, biodiversity and
conservation research was conducted in the City
of Melbourne (Panel 3). The City of Melbourne’s
commitment to sustainability and biological
conservation is reected in its Urban Forest and
Open Space strategies (City of Melbourne 2012a,
2012b) and the goals set in its latest four year Council
Plan (City of Melbourne 2013Q). More recently,
the on-going development of a new urban ecology
strategy has heightened the council’s interest and
concern for its insect biological diversity.
This research was developed following the
collaborative partnership model of science-
government partnerships (Ives and Lynch 2014).
Not unlike the mutualistic plant-insect ecological
interactions that we describe in Chapter 7, this
approach advocates for government professionals
and academic researchers to work in close
association to generate mutually benecial
outcomes. To guarantee that both theoretically
9
10
Panel 2b Diversity of insect life (opposite page)
1. Fly (Diptera)
2. Beetle (Coleoptera)
3. Buttery (Lepidoptera)
4. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
5. Australian native bee (Hymenoptera)
6. Seed bug (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae)
7. Weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)
8. European honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
9. Firebug (Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae)
Photos from different locations in Australia, the Iberian
Peninsula, the Canary Archipelago and Southeast Asia.
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
interesting and practically important questions
are identied, Ives and Lynch (2014) propose
that key research questions should be developed
collaboratively between researchers and
practitioners. This principle was used to guide The
Little Things that Run the City project, leading to the
formulation of the following research questions:
(1) How many different species, genera,
families and orders of insects live in the City of
Melbourne?
(2) What are the most frequently occurring
insect species in the City of Melbourne?
(3) How is the insect biodiversity of the City of
Melbourne distributed amongst its public green
spaces?
(4) How do different habitat types within green
spaces contribute to the insect biodiversity of
the City of Melbourne?
(5) What are the most frequent ecological
interactions between plants and insects in the
City of Melbourne?
(6) What are the ecological processes performed
11
12
Panel 3 The City of Melbourne (0pposite page)
Aerial photo of the City of Melbourne Central Business District and its
surrounding suburbs and green spaces (Source: City of Melbourne).
by insects in the City of Melbourne?
(7) What are the ecosystem services delivered
by the City of Melbourne’s insect biodiversity
that benet people?
This research will illustrate the importance of the
City of Melbourne for the conservation of insect
biodiversity. Further, results stemming from this
research will identify particular insects with
key functional roles that benet humans. This
knowledge could be then be used to identify
where to prioritise conservation activities, guide
the design and maintenance of green spaces, and
assist decision-makers in considering insects in
broader biodiversity plans and strategies.
Melbourne is gaining a well-deserved reputation
as a leading city for biodiversity studies. The
development and implementation of the City’s
Urban Forest and Open Space strategies and the
conservation goals set in its latest four year Council
Plan highlight the City’s commitment to biodiversity
conservation. The research we present here is
well aligned with these strategies and goals, and
reect our common commitment to Melbourne’s
sustainability. Our ndings also provide valuable
baseline data that can be integrated into future
research agendas, for example the City of
Melbourne’s 2016 BioBlitz and the ‘Shared urban
habitats’ research project of the recently established
National Environmental Science Programme –
Clean Air and Urban Landscapes hub.
13
14
15
Our ndings indicate that 1,351 insect species
have been recorded in the City of Melbourne.
These species are taxonomically distributed
among 834 genera, 215 families and 16 orders
(Table 3.1). This gure is based on a ‘conservative’
dataset, in which we collated insect species data
from an insect survey on aboveground vegetation
specically conducted for the present project, the
2014 Melbourne BioBlitz and the Atlas of Living
Australia. An account of the methodological
approaches employed to conduct the insect survey
are provided in full detail in Appendix 2.
As is frequently the case with insect and other
arthropod taxa, identication of collected material
to species level requires highly specialised
expertise and is not always practically possible.
Therefore, more often than not specimens are
identied only to a higher taxonomic rank (eg,
genus or family). This presents a problem when
integrating data from different sources, in which
insect records have been identied to different
levels. This was clearly the case in our study, where
many records derived from our targeted survey are
yet to be identied to species level. As we did not
wish for the species richness estimate to be inated
by this taxonomic impediment, we removed from
the integrated dataset any record that, if fully
identied in the future, could become a match for
any previously identied species. Not taking this
conservative approach would have inated the
number of species by approximately 12%; in other
words, if all records in our dataset were to be fully
identied to species level, and they all turned out
not to match previous recorded species, then the
actual number of insect species documented thus
far in the City of Melbourne would be closer to
1,500.
Yet, this conservative gure of 1,351 insect species
Chapter 3
Insect biodiversity of the City of Melbourne
16
Panel 4 Wattle pig (opposite page)
Weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in the genus Leptopius are
commonly referred to as ‘wattle pigs’. They were the rst insects to be
formally documented in the City of Melbourne, and are know to occur
in the municipality since 1875. (Source: Rundstedt Rovillos)
occurring in the City of Melbourne may in turn be
an overestimation. Until recently the International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had a
guideline (designed with birds, mammals and other
vertebrate groups in mind) stating that if a species
had not been recorded (ie, observed or collected)
for more than 50 years it could be assumed to be
extinct. We applied this guideline to our data by
removing all insect species (that we have date data
for) that have not been documented after 1965.
Using this protocol would assume that as many as
220 insects species could be considered locally
extinct in the City of Melbourne. This would imply
that as much as 15% of the City of Melbourne’s
insect diversity could have disappeared from the
municipality’s boundaries in the 150 years since
insects species began to be documented. Further
research will be necessary to understand the extent
to which this attributable to local extinction or is,
as we believe and hope, the product of a paucity
of spatially explicit insect data for the municipality.
Our working group is in the ongoing process of
sorting a considerable number of insect specimens
collected in the City of Melbourne that were not
processed in time to be included in the present
report. These data may contribute to address this
uncertainty. Surveys targeted at some of these
species thought to be extinct, perhaps led by
trained citizen scientists, would shed some light
on this issue.
The oldest known record of an insect species in
the City of Melbourne dates back 140 years to
1875, and belongs to a group of beetles commonly
known as ‘wattle pigs’ (Panel 4). Incidentally, the
beetles (Coleoptera) are the most diverse order of
insects in the City of Melbourne. They are followed
by butteries and moths (Lepidoptera), wasp, bees
and ants (Hymenoptera), true bugs (Hemiptera),
and ies, mosquitoes and midges (Diptera) (Table
3.1 and Figure 3.1). Conversely, the insect orders
Ephemeroptera (mayies), Psocoptera (bark
lice), Dermaptera (earwigs) and Siphonaptera
(eas) are represented by three or fewer species
(Table 3.1). According to our data, the order
Phthiraptera (lice) has not been formally recorded
17
18
Beetles Coleoptera 605 360 42
Butteries and moths Lepidoptera 245 170 33
Wasps, bees and ants Hymenoptera 198 83 30
True bugs Hemiptera 118 93 33
Flies, mosquitoes and midges Diptera 105 63 41
Lacewings Neuroptera 23 19 6
Dragonies and damseleies Odonata 15 11 8
Cockroaches and termites Blattodea 13 9 5
Caddisies Trichoptera 7 7 4
Mantis Mantodea 5 3 1
Grashoppers and crickets Orthoptera 4 3 2
Thrips Thysanoptera 4 4 2
Mayies Ephemeroptera 3 3 3
Bark lice Psocoptera 3 3 2
Earwigs Dermaptera 2 2 2
Fleas Siphonaptera 1 1 1
1,351 834 215
Families
Species
Genera
Table 3.1Number of insect species, genera and families documented
by order, City of Melbourne Local Government Area 1875-2015.
19
Figure 3.1 Number of species of each insect order as a percentage of the total species richness, City of Melbourne Local
Government Area 1875 - 2015. The number of species, genera and families in each order are given in Table 3.1.
20
in the municipality; yet abundant evidence from
health agencies indicate that this group is in
fact present. The other insect orders present in
Australia, including Embioptera (webspinners),
Mecoptera (scorpionies), Megaloptera (alderies),
Phasmatodea (stick insects), Plecoptera (stoneies),
Rhaphidoptera (snakeies), Strepsiptera (twisted-
wing parasites) and Zoraptera (zorapterans) have
not, to the best of our knowledge, been documented
in the City of Melbourne. We believe however that
webspinners, alderies and stick insects are very
likely to also be present.
As mentioned above, the gure of 1,351 insect
species for the City of Melbourne is based on a
‘conservative’ dataset that integrated data from
the Atlas of Living Australia, the 2014 Melbourne
BioBlitz and a targeted insect survey. We show the
relative contribution of these data sources in Figure
3.2.
A total of 1,014 insect species had been documented
in the Atlas of Living Australia as occurring in the City
of Melbourne before the 2014 Melbourne BioBlitz
and the 2014-15 targeted insect survey. A total of
141 insect species were recorded during the 2014
Melbourne BioBlitz, of which approx. 72% were
new records for the City of Melbourne. Finally, our
targeted insect survey recorded 312 insect species.
However, as discussed above, at least 15% of these
were removed from the ‘conservative’ dataset as
we didn’t wish the estimation to be overinated
by taxa not identied to species level. Of the 263
species remaining, approx. 90% were new records
for the municipality. Overall, approx. 70% of the
species thought to occur in the City of Melbourne
are known exclusively through historical data
(eg, museum specimens) as archived in the Atlas
of Living Australia, while approx. 17% and 7%
have been uniquely documented by our targeted
insect survey and the 2014 Melbourne BioBlitz,
respectively. Interestingly, only ve species have
been documented by all three data sources (white
central area in Figure 3.2). These ve species were:
the European honey bee Apis mellifera (Panel 6),
the white cabbage buttery Pieris rapae (Panel 23),
the European wasp Vespula germanica, the soldier
beetle Chauliognathus lugubris (Panel 23) and the
green lacewing Mallada signatus.
The number of species documented by order
by each data source is shown in table 3.2. The
21
Atlas of Living Australia
[1875 - 2014]
Insect survey
[2014-15]
Melbourne BioBlitz
[2014]
964
5
10
236 89
12
35
Figure 3.2 A Venn diagram showing the distribution of insect species amongst
the three sources that contributed insect data for the estimation of the City of
Melbourne’s insect species richness, City of Melbourne Local Government
Area 1875 - 2015. The non-intersecting areas indicate the number of unique
species. The intersecting areas indicate the number of shared species. The
white area in the centre of the diagram indicates species that were common
to all three data sources.
22
Beetles Coleoptera 578 13 25
Butteries and moths Lepidoptera 192 72 8
Wasps, bees and ants Hymenoptera 127 15 68
True bugs Hemiptera 32 11 78
Flies, mosquitoes and midges Diptera 27 15 65
Lacewings Neuroptera 20 6 4
Dragonies and damseleies Odonata 14 6 -
Cockroaches and termites Blattodea 10 - 3
Caddisies Trichoptera 6 1 -
Mantis Mantodea - - 5
Grashoppers and crickets Orthoptera - 1 3
Thrips Thysanoptera 4 - -
Mayies Ephemeroptera 2 - -
Bark lice Psocoptera - - 3
Earwigs Dermaptera 1 - 1
Fleas Siphonaptera 1 - -
1,014 141 263
Insect survey
[2014-15]
Atlas of Living Australia
[1875 - 2014]
Melbourne BioBlitz
[2014]
Table 3.2 Number of species documented by order by each data
source, City of Melbourne Local Government Area 1875 - 2015.
23
Figure 3.3 The 40 most frequently recorded species in the targeted insect survey. City of Melbourne Local Government Area October 2014 -
March 2015.
24
Panel 5 Minute brown scavenger beetle (opposite page)
The most frequently occurring insect species in our survey was a species
of minute brown scavenger beetle in the genus Corticaria (Coleoptera:
Latridiidae). In the image this tiny beetle is shown at about ten times its
actual size of 2 mm. (Source: Udo Schmidt)
Figure 3.4 The lawn y Hydrellia tritici walking on a unopened
Asteraceae ower bud in the ‘Grasslands Installation’, State Library
of Victoria (left) and a pair performing the species mating dance on
a Brachyscome sp. in the University of Melbourne ‘System Garden’,
Parkville.
Melbourne BioBlitz was distinctly successful at
documenting Lepidoptera biodiversity, particularly
nocturnal moth species. In fact, almost half of all
BioBlitz records are of moths. This was expected,
as the main BioBlitz insect events were specically
planned around the deployment of a series of
light traps, a survey methodology particularly
apt at attracting nocturnal insects. On the other
hand, the insect survey was specically tailored
to document plant-insect interactions, and the
collecting methods were therefore planned
accordingly (sweep-netting and direct observation,
for instance). Unsurprisingly, our insect survey
was more successful at documenting groups that
contain species evolved to live in close association
with the aboveground structures of plants, such
as wasps, bees, ants, leafhoppers, treehoppers,
heteropteran bugs, ies, mantis and bark lice.
Although the caterpillars of butteries and moths
also live in close associations with plants, our
25
26
Figure 3.5 An empoascine leafhopper piercing the tissue of its host
plant. (Source: Alice Abela)
Figure 3.6 the Pacic damsel bug Nabis kinbergii resting on top of an
Amaranth inorescence.
Panel 6 European honey bee (Opposite page)
The most frequently occurring specialised pollinator and the most
frequently occurring non-native species in the targeted survey was the
European honey bee Apis Mellifera. The species is shown here actively
collecting pollen from an Asteraceae in the City of Melbourne’s
Birrarung Marr wildower meadow.
survey protocol explicitly avoided collecting the
immature stages of species, a reason that may
help to explain the small contribution of the
insect survey to record Lepidoptera biodiversity.
Arguably, the most striking result derived from the
insect survey is that it contributed to increase the
number of Hemiptera and Diptera species known
to occur in the City of Melbourne by almost
200%. This nding highlights the success of the
targeted insect survey conducted for this study in
advancing the state of knowledge of the City of
Melbourne’s insect biodiversity, and suggests that
Hemiptera and Diptera are much more common
than previously thought.
In order to better understand which insect species
in the City of Melbourne are common and which
ones are rare, we used our full insect survey dataset
to rank the recorded species by the number of
individuals that were found (Figure 3.3). The most
27
28
Figure 3.7 The orange caterpillar parasite wasp Netelia producta
photographed in Princess Park.
Panel 7 Diamondback moth (opposite page)
This image represents the rst record of the diamondback moth Plutella
xylostella for the City of Melbourne. It was taken in October 2014 at the
‘Grasslands’ Installation of the State Library of Victoria.
frequently occurring species was a beetle in the
genus Corticaria (Coleoptera: Latridiidae). These
tiny, dark beetles normally measure about 2 mm in
length, and are appropriately referred to as minute
brown scavenger beetle (Panel 5). Truly ubiquitous
in the City of Melbourne, the species was collected
in all sites, in the four studied habitat types (see
Chapter 5) and in association with 50 different plant
species. As its common name implies, the species
has a scavenging behavior, feeding predominantly
on decomposing organic material (Andrews 2002).
The second most frequently occurring species was
the lawn y Hydrellia tritici (Diptera: Ephydridae)
(Figure 3.4), one of the most common ies in
Australia (Marshall 2012). The species was collected
in association with 24 different plant species. In its
larval stage, this species is a herbivore (Marshall
2012), eating its way through the leaf tissue of plants,
an ecological process known as leaf-mining. Adult
lawn ies are known to feed on nectar. During
our survey adults were repeatedly observed either
walking or performing their elaborate courtship
dances on owers, as can be appreciated in Figure
3.4. This has led us to hypothesise that this species
might be an important yet understudied pollinator.
The third most frequently occurring species was
an empoascine leafhopper [Typhlocybinae 2]
(Hemiptera: Cicadellidae: Typhlocybinae), which
can be seen in Figure 3.5. The exact species is
unknown because empoascine leafhoppers are
difcult to differentiate. However, it is very likely
to be a common species such as the vegetable
leafhopper Austroasca viridigrisea. This will be
29
30
Panel 8 Dustywing (opposite page)
An stacked microphotograph of the dustywing Neosemidalis globiceps.
Until the present project, this species was known only from two
specimens collected at Lakes Entrance, Victoria in 1963. (Source: Ken
Walker, Museum Victoria)
determined following a more detailed examination
of the collected material. Empoascine leafhoppers
are parenchyma feeders (Fletcher 2009), which is
a specialised form of herbivory. In our study, the
species was found in association with 26 different
plant species.
The European honey bee Apis mellifera
(Hymenoptera: Apidae) (Panel 6) was the most
frequently occurring specialised pollinator and
the most frequently occurring non-native species.
European honey bees were collected in association
with 21 different owering plant species. According
to the Australia’s Department of Environment,
Apis mellifera is an invasive species that has been
present in Australia for almost 200 years (Australia
Government 2015). In a recent study on the
conservation value of urban green space habitats
for Australian native bee communities conducted in
south-eastern Melbourne (Threlfall et al. 2015), the
European honey bee was found to be the dominant
bee species in residential neighbourhoods.
The Pacic damsel bug Nabis kinbergii (Hemiptera:
Nabidae) (Figure 3.6) was the most frequently
occurring predatory species. Widely distributed
in Australia, this generalist predator is an
important regulator of pest populations in eld
crops, where it has been documented feeding
on aphids, mirid bugs, and, more recently on the
diamondback moth Plutella xylostella (Ma et al.
2005). Incidentally, Plutella xylostella (Panel 7) was
recorded for the rst time in the City of Melbourne
in October 2014 during our targeted survey of the
Grasslands Installation and its occurrence in the
municipality was posteriorly conrmed during the
2014 Melbourne BioBlitz. The diamondback moth
is amongst the most economically signicant pests
of brassica crops both in Australia and elsewhere
in the world (Ma et al. 2005).
The most frequently occurring parasitoid was the
orange caterpillar parasite wasp Netelia producta
(Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) (Figure 3.7).
Orange caterpillar parasite wasps are large species,
measuring approximately 20 mm in length. They
are ectoparasitoids of large immature Lepidoptera
31
32
Panel 9 Seed bug (opposite page)
A seed bug tentatively identied as Eurynysius meschioides. This
specic specimen was collected in a mid-storey plot within Royal
Park by seep-netting the weeping bottlebrush seen in Panel 10. The
body structure seen at the abdominal tip of this male specimen
correspond to the protruded genital segments. A careful observation
of these segments will reveal a ‘paramere’, a slender, hook-shaped
specialised reproductive structure.
(Nauman 1991), which means that the immature
stages of Netelia producta develop attached to the
external tissue of buttery and moth caterpillars.
An interesting insect species recorded in our
survey was the dustywing Neosemidalis globiceps
(Neuroptera: Coniopterygidae) (Panel 8). Endemic
to Victoria, this species was described as new
to science in 1972, and until the present study
known only from three specimens collected by
C.N. Smithers at Lakes Entrance, Victoria in 1965
(Meinander 1972, New 1996). We recorded this
species in Carlton Gardens South, Princes Park
and Royal Park, and found it in association with
Nerium oleander, Eucalyptus sideroxylon, Ficus
macrophylla and a Callistemon cultivar. Dustywings
are the smallest lacewings, with wingspans of only
4-6 mm (New 1996). Both immature stages and
adults are generalist predators, feeding on aphids,
coccids, and other small arthropods (Engel and
Grimaldi 2007).
Another interesting nding from our survey was
the discovery in Royal Park of a species of seed bug
tentatively identied as Eurynysius meschioides
(Hemiptera: Lygaeidae) (Panel 9). This herbivorous
species was recorded in association with the
weeping bottlebrush Melaleuca viminalis (Panel
10), which is a species native to Australia but not
indigenous to Victoria. The seed bug Eurynysius
meschioides was rst recorded in Victoria in
a public park in Cranbourne, south-eastern
Melbourne (L Mata et al., unpublished data).
Although the exact host plant was not documented,
the area within the surveyed area contained a
‘Dwarf Melaleuca’. Before this Victorian record,
the species was known only form New South
Wales, Queensland and South Australia (Cassis
and Gross 2012). Since the Royal Park record,
Eurynysius meschioides has been re-found living
on Melaleuca viminalis in another area of Royal
Park and in north-western Melbourne’s Brimbank
Park (L Mata, personal observation). This raises
the question: has Eurynysius meschioides always
33
34
Panel 10 Weeping bottlebrush (opposite page)
The weeping bottlebrush Melaleuca viminalis (close plane, bottom
right) as photographed in a mid-storey plot within Royal Park. The
species was introduced to Victoria’s urban environments as an
ornamental.
had natural populations in Victoria or has it been
co-translocated to Victoria’s urban environments
with the weeping bottlebrush Melaleuca viminalis?
And if so, is the seed bug now naturally dispersing
from one ‘urban’ weeping bottlebrush to the
other? Ultimately, would planting more weeping
bottlebrushes throughout the City of Melbourne
and adjacent municipalities contribute to the
persistence of Eurynysius meschioides in Victoria’s
urban environments?
Perhaps the most unexpected discovery in our
survey however was the record of a species of
chinch bug in the genus Heinsius (Hemiptera:
Blissidae) living on in a grassland plot in Princes
Park. This genus is endemic to Australia (Slater
1979), and was previously known only from
Queensland and the Northern Territory. Until
now, Heinsius has never been recorded south of
Adavale, Queensland. This means that our nding
of this genus in the City of Melbourne effectively
expands the known southern distribution of this
species in approximately 1,600 km. According to
Slater (1979), Heinsius belongs to a small group of
morphologically isolated genera that are believed
to be remnants of a very old Gondwanaland
element in the Australian blissine fauna from a
geological period when Australia, Antarctica, and
Madagascar were still in close proximity. In any
case, nding this rare genus living in one of the
City of Melbourne’s main parks is remarkable,
and not only highlights how poorly known this
group is but the substantial contribution that urban
green spaces can make to conserve rare and/or
endangered biodiversity.
Our survey will also shed light on the rarity of insect
species. It is worth pointing out that a total of 186
species recorded in our survey were singletons.
In other words, more than half of the recorded
species in the survey were collected or observed
only once. This is in fact a common pattern to the
large majority of insect survey research. The exact
number of singletons is bound to change as we
continue to sort and identify the remaining material
from the project’s insect survey. Furthermore, our
survey explicitly included temporal replicates,
35
36
which means that the targeted plant species within
each plot of the study were surveyed for insects
at least three times. In time, this will allow us
to determine which insect species in the City of
Melbourne are truly rare and which are just simply
difcult to observe. Notwithstanding, the overall
pattern of a large number of singletons is very
likely to hold, and we anticipate that the insect
community of the City of Melbourne, as most
species rich insect communities in other urban and
non-urban environments, is indeed structured by
a small number of widely distributed, frequently
occurring common species plus a large suite of
localised, infrequently occurring rare ones.
37
Our targeted insect survey was conducted in
19 public green space sites across the City of
Melbourne (see Table A2.1 in Appendix 2). The
present report is limited to the survey data collected
at only eleven of these, namely Argyle Square,
Canning/Neill Street Reserve, the area of Carlton
Gardens south of the Royal Exhibition Building
(henceforth referred to as Carlton Gardens South),
the combined areas of Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury
Gardens (henceforth referred to as Fitzroy-Treasury
Gardens), the temporary intervention that greened
the forecourt of the State Library of Victoria during
October-November 2014 (henceforth referred
to as ‘Grasslands’ Installation), Lincoln Square,
Princes Park, Royal Park, the ornamental beds of
the State Library of Victoria (henceforth referred
to as State Library of Victoria), Westgate Park and
Women’s Peace Gardens. Data from the other
green space sites are currently being sorted and
identied, and will be reported on June 2016.
Unfortunately, less than a third of the Atlas of
Living Australia records contained enough spatial
data to be reliably attributed to these eleven green
space sites. Therefore, the green space site results
we present in this chapter are based on a much-
reduced dataset of 436 species.
We used this dataset to show how insect species
richness is distributed amongst the City of
Melbourne’s public green spaces considered for
this report (Figure 4.1). With 202 species, Royal
Park ranked as the green space with the highest
species richness. It was followed by Fitzroy-
Treasury Gardens, in which 112 insect species were
documented. The third and fourth most species rich
green spaces were Princes Park and Westgate Park,
with 94 and 72 documented species, respectively.
The ‘Grasslands’ Installation sustained 66 insect
species during the six weeks period it was located
Chapter 4
Urban green space sites
38
in the forecourt steps of the State Library of Victoria,
making it the fth most insect biodiverse green
space in the City of Melbourne’s recorded history.
At the other range of the spectrum, less than ten
insect species have been documented thus far in
Lincoln Square and Canning/Neill Street Reserve
(Figure 4.1).
The number of insect species, genera and families
documented by order in the eleven public green
space sites in shown in Table 4.1 and Table 4.2.
These tables reveal some important knowledge
gaps that could be addressed by future studies.
We expect for example that a survey specically
targeted at ground and bark-dwelling beetles in
Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens, Princes Park, Royal Park
and Westgate Park would substantially increase
the number of beetle species known for these
sites. Likewise, a targeted survey of butteries
and moths conducted in Carlton Gardens, Princes
Park and Westgate Park could greatly contribute to
elucidate the true state of Lepidoptera biodiversity
in these green spaces. We further believe that a
targeted survey of adult dragonies and damselies
(Odonata) in the proximity of Royal Park and
Westgate Park wetlands, combined with an
aquatic survey targeted at their immature stages,
would go a long way to shed light on the actual
number of Odonata species beneting from the
City of Melbourne network of waterbodies. The
aquatic survey would also contribute to a better
understanding of mayy (Ephemeroptera) and
caddisy (Trichoptera) biodiversity.
39
Figure 4.1 Species richness of the eleven green space sites investigated for the present study as a percentage of the species
richness attributable to these sites, City of Melbourne Local Government Area 1875 - 2015. Bold numbers in top of each bar
indicate the number of insect species for each site.
40
Table 4.1Number of insect species (S), genera (G) and families (F) documented by order
in Argyle Square, Canning/Neill St. Reserve, Carlton Gardens South, Fitzroy - Treasury
Gardens and the Grasslands Installation, City of Melbourne Local Government Area 1875
- 2015.
S G F S G F S G F S G F S G F
- - - - - - 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - -
2 2 2 1 1 1 7 7 4 8 8 7 9 8 8
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7 7 7 2 2 2 12 9 9 26 21 15 22 15 17
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4 4 4 2 2 2 14 13 8 12 11 9 14 12 9
3 3 3 1 1 1 9 7 6 15 12 8 20 11 9
1 1 1 - - - 6 6 6 43 40 13 1 1 1
- - - - - - 1 1 1 2 2 1 - - -
- - - - - - 2 2 2 2 2 2 - - -
- - - - - - 1 1 1 2 2 2 - - -
1 1 1 - - - 1 1 1 - - - - - -
1 1 1 - - - 2 2 2 - - - - - -
- - - - - - 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
19 19 19 6 6 6 57 51 42 112 100 59 66 47 44
Fitzroy - Treasury Gardens
Grasslands Installation
Carlton Gardens South
Argyle Square
Canning/Neill St. Reserve
Coleoptera
Lepidoptera
Hemiptera
Hymenoptera
Diptera
Neuroptera
Trichoptera
Odonata
Blattodea
Mantodea
Orthoptera
Thysanoptera
Psocoptera
Dermaptera
Ephemeroptera
41
S G F S G F S G F S G F S G F S G F
- - - - - - 1 1 1 - - - - - - - - -
2 2 2 6 5 4 15 14 8 4 4 3 11 11 7 2 2 2
- - - 1 1 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
3 2 2 21 11 11 32 21 20 13 10 9 8 7 6 3 3 3
- - - - - - - - - - - - 1 1 1 - - -
1 1 1 25 24 14 40 32 15 13 12 6 16 16 10 4 3 3
2 2 2 35 15 10 47 21 9 11 9 8 13 12 9 2 2 2
- - - 1 1 1 47 44 17 - - - 12 11 8 1 1 1
- - - 1 1 1 2 2 1 - - - - - - - - -
- - - 2 2 2 8 8 5 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - -
- - - - - - 4 4 4 - - - 6 6 4 - - -
- - - - - - 2 2 2 - - - 1 1 1 1 1 1
- - - 2 2 1 1 1 1 - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 1 - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - 1 1 1 - - -
8 7 7 94 62 45 202 151 84 43 37 28 72 68 49 13 12 12
Royal Park
Westgate Park
Princes Park
State Library of Victoria
Women’s Peace Gardens
Lincoln Square
Coleoptera
Lepidoptera
Hemiptera
Hymenoptera
Diptera
Neuroptera
Trichoptera
Odonata
Blattodea
Mantodea
Orthoptera
Thysanoptera
Psocoptera
Dermaptera
Ephemeroptera
Table 4.2Number of insect species (S), genera (G) and families (F) documented by order in Lincoln Square,
Princess Park, Royal Park, State Library of Victoria, Westgate Park, and Women’s Peace Gardens, City of
Melbourne Local Government Area 1875 - 2015.
42
Royal Park is the largest public green space in the City of
Melbourne, covering 1,517,840 m
2
(~152 ha). Royal Park
contains open grassland and lightly timbered eucalypt
forest (City of Melbourne 2013). A total of 8,128 trees
are present in Royal Park. Although the highest tree in
the park reaches up to 17 m, the mean height for trees
in the park is approx. 4 m. The combined canopied area
they cover is approx. 255,000 m
2
(~30 ha).
Royal Park is sparsely planted compared to other parks in
Melbourne. Major tree planting occurred in the 1930s,
when many sugar gums Eucalyptus cladocalyx and river
red gums Eucalyptus camaldulensis were planted, and
1997, when thousands of other tree, shrub and ground
cover species were added (City of Melbourne 1998).
The City of Melbourne continues to re-vegetate Royal
Park, with a notable focus on indigenous species (City
of Melbourne 1998).
First proclaimed in 1845, Royal Park remains an
important recreational area (City of Melbourne 2013).
The Melbourne Zoo, the State Hockey and Netball
Centre, the Royal Park Golf Club and the Nature
Playground all lay within Royal Park, which also
includes ovals and facilities for several sports, as well
as a network of paths for cycling and walking.
Panel 11 Royal Park (opposite page)
Shown in the photo is one of the nine mid-storey plots that were
surveyed for insects in Royal Park as part of the present project. The light-
green shrub in the front is the fragrant saltbush Rhagodia parabolica.
The photo was taken in March 2015.
Box 4.1 Royal Park
43
44
Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens are adjacent
public green spaces located on the edge of Melbourne’s
central business district. The Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens
cover a combined area of 321,274 m
2
(~32 ha) and are
dominated by lawn, ornamental gardens, mature trees
and avenues of the English elm Ulmus procera (City of
Melbourne 2013b). A total of 1,246 trees are present
in Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens. The highest tree reaches
up to 24 m, and the mean tree has an approx. height
of 13 m. The combined tree canopy in Fitzroy-Treasury
Gardens occupies an approx. area of 145,000 m
2
(~15
ha).
Key tree species in Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens include
English elm Ulmus procera, Moreton Bay g Ficus
macrophylla and white poplar Populus alba (City of
Melbourne 2013b). The Scarred Tree, which predates
the park’s development, is of major Aboriginal cultural
signicance.
Fitzroy Gardens was designed in 1856 as ‘a slice of
Arcadian England for Melbourne society’, and was
included on the Victoria Heritage Register in 1998 (City
of Melbourne 2010). Treasury Gardens was set aside
as parkland in 1867. Both green spaces are well-used
recreation areas, popular with picnickers, walkers and
ofce-workers.
Panel 12 Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens (opposite page)
The tall, light-green tree species in the left front plane of the photo of
is the London plaintree Platanus acerifolia. It was one of the ve tree
species surveyed for insects in Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens for the present
study. The photo was taken in January 2015.
Box 4.2 Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens
45
46
Princes Park is the second largest public green space
in the City of Melbourne, covering 395,620 m
2
(~40
ha). The park is dominated by open non-native grassed
areas and mature trees along the park’s perimeter and
internal pathways (City of Melbourne 2012). A total of
1,151 trees are present in Princes Park. The highest tree
in the park reaches up to 24 m and the mean height for
tress in the park is approx. 7 m. The combined canopied
area they cover is approx. 65,000 m
2
(~7 ha). Key tree
species in Princes Park include English elm Ulmus
procera, narrow-leafed ash Fraxinus angustifolia, white
poplar Populus alba, Moreton Bay g Ficus macrophylla,
Canary Island date palm Phoenix canariensis, river red
gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis, bush box Lophostemon
confertus and various coniferous tree species. Princes
Park is an important recreational area, with a tennis
club, bowls club, running track and picnic facilities.
Panel 13 Princes Park (opposite page)
The tree species anking the walking path is the narrow-leafed ash
Fraxinus angustifolia. It was one of the six tree species surveyed for
insects in Princess Park as part of this study. The photo was taken in
February 2015.
Box 4.3 Princes Park
47
48
Westgate Park is a 284,847 m
2
(~28 ha) public green
space that has been described as a ‘nature sanctuary
located in the heart of industrial Melbourne’ (Parks
Victoria 2009). The area was originally part of a large
saltmarsh that extended north from the Yarra River (City
of Melbourne 2013c).
Over the last 100 years, Westgate Park has been a sand
mine (the excavated area has been transformed into the
saltwater lake); a rubbish tip; an aircraft factory and an
aireld (City of Melbourne 2013c). It was designated
as a green space in 1984 as part of Victoria’s 150th
anniversary celebrations (Parks Victoria 2009). Formed
in 1998, the Friends of Westgate Park have planted
more than 260,000 indigenous plants, predominantly
grown in their onsite nursery.
Friends of Westgate Park and Park Victoria have re-
vegetated the site with species typical of coast Banksia
woodland, heathland, saltmarsh, grassy open woodland,
grasslands and other vegetation types typical to the area
(Friends of Westgate Park 2015).
A total of 2,326 trees are present in Westgate Park. The
tallest tree reaches up to 16 m, and the average tree
has a height of approx. 2 m. The canopied area of all
combined tress covers approx. 44,993 m
2
(~5 ha). The
green space is not only popular with joggers, cyclist
and walkers, but also, thanks to its freshwater and
saltwater lakes, with bird species, including stilts, ibis,
spoonbills, ducks and pelicans.
Panel 14 Westgate Park (opposite page)
Westgate Park’s freshwater lake is a haven for bird species such as
stilts, ibis, spoonbills, ducks and pelicans. Although we conducted a
preliminary survey for aquatic insects in this waterbody (not reported
here), its aquatic insect biodiversity remains largely unexplored. The
photo was taken in January 2015.
Box 4.4 Westgate Park
49
50
‘Grasslands’ was an art installation that greened the
forecourt steps of the State Library of Victoria for six
weeks during October - November 2014 (Panel 15). It
was the brainchild of artist Linda Tegg, who conceived it
during her 2012 Georges Mora Foundation Fellowship
at the State Library of Victoria, and developed in
collaboration with horticulturist John Delpratt (The
University of Melbourne) and landscape architect
Anthony Magen (RMIT University). It was supported by
the Australian Council of Arts, Arts Victoria, The City of
Melbourne and The University of Melbourne, and was
included in the Melbourne International Arts Festival
2014.
Using historical data found within the library itself,
Tegg (2014) conceived the ‘Grasslands’ Installation to
recreate the native grasslands that used to be widespread
throughout temperate south-eastern Australia. The plant
community of ‘Grasslands’ included 56 native species
(six trees, one shrub, nine grasses and 40 forbs) in 25
families (J Delpratt, personal communication).
This green space was distinctly modular in design,
being structured by a series of rectangular planter crates
and bags. In total, the installation was structured by
971 crates and 100 bags, which were aggregated in 15
islands throughout the forecourt steps of the library and
its surrounding lawn (Panel 15), for a total approximate
surface area of 130 m
2
.
Box 4.5 ‘Grasslands’ Installation
Panel 15 ‘Grasslands’ Installation (opposite page)
Linda Tegg’s ‘Grasslands’, the art installation that greened the forecourt
steps of the State Library of Victoria for six weeks during October -
November 2014. (Source: Matthew Stanton, courtesy of Linda Tegg).
“While ephemeral, the beauty and ideas represented by Tegg’s work will linger in Melbournian’s collective
memory for years to come.
Anais Lellouche,
Curator of Special Project for the State Library of Victoria
51
52
53
Our targeted insect survey of the City of
Melbourne’s public green spaces was conducted
in four different habitat types: tree, mid-storey,
grassland and lawn. We also conducted a few
sporadic surveys of aquatic insects in waterbodies
located in Royal Park, Westgate Park, Carlton
Gardens South and Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens. The
results of these aquatic surveys are not given in the
present report. Findings presented in this chapter
are based exclusively on our targeted insect survey
dataset of 312 species. It was not possible to
include Atlas of Living Australia or BioBlitz data
here, as unfortunately, insect records associated
with habitat metadata were insufcient in these
data sources.
The distribution of insect species by habitat type is
illustrated in Figure 5.1. Mid-storey ranked as the
habitat type with the highest species richness (166
species). It was followed by grassland and tree,
with 126 and 98 insect species, respectively. With
42 recorded species, lawn rank as the habitat type
with the lowest number of insect species.
The number of species, genera and families by order
in each habitat type is given in Table 5.1. In the
mid-storey habitat type, the insect order with the
highest species richness was Diptera (47 species),
followed by Hemiptera and Hymenoptera, with
44 and 36 species, respectively. In grassland, the
highest species richness was observed in the order
Hymenoptera (36 species), followed by Diptera and
Hemiptera, with 35 and 30 species, respectively.
The highest species richness in the tree habitat
type was observed in the order Hymenoptera (31
species), followed by Hemiptera and Coleoptera,
with 26 and 16 species, respectively. In the lawn
habitat type, the insect order with the highest
species richness was Diptera (16 species), followed
by Hymenoptera and Hemiptera, with 8 and 6
Chapter 5
Habitat types
54
Figure 5.1 Species richness of the four habitat types investigated for the present study as a percentage of the total species
richness recorded in the targeted insect survey, The City of Melbourne Local Government Area 2014 - 2015. Bold numbers in
top of each bar indicate the number of insect species for each habitat type.
Species richness (%)
Mid-storey Grassland LawnsTrees
55
species, respectively.
The distribution of unique and shared insect
species amongst the four habitat types is shown in
Figure 5.2. With 91 unique species, mid-storey was
distinctly the habitat type with the highest number
of unique species, followed by grassland (68
species), tree (58 species) and lawn (12 species).
Mid-storey had therefore 30% more unique
species than grassland, 57% more than tree, and
almost 700% more than lawn. The differences in
unique species between grassland and lawn, and
between tree and lawn, were substantially high as
well. When combined, the unique species of mid-
storey and grassland (188 species) represent 60%
of all the species recorded in our insect survey. The
habitat types sharing the highest number of species
were mid-storey and grassland (51 species), while
the tree and lawn habitat types shared the fewest
(16 species). A total of eleven species occurred
in association with all habitat types. These eleven
species were: the minute brown scavenger beetle
Corticaria sp. (Panel 5), an empoascine leafhopper
[Typhlocybinae 2] (Figure 3.5), the Pacic damsel
bug Nabis kinbergii (Figure 3.6), the Rutherglen
bug Nysius vinitor (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae) (Figure
6.3), the European honey bee Apis mellifera (Panel
6), the lawn y Hydrellia tritici (Figure 3.4), two
species of chironomid midges [Chironomidae
1; Chironomidae 3], a scuttle y [Phoridae 1], a
house y [Muscidae 1] and a thrips [Thysanoptera
1].
Taken together, our ndings highlight the
contribution of the mid-storey and grassland
habitat types to the insect biodiversity of the City of
Melbourne. Interestingly, our ndings also indicate
that very few species are found across the main
habitat types present in the City of Melbourne.
56
Table 5.1Number of insect species (S), genera (G) and families (F) documented by order in
mid-storey, grassland, tree and lawn habitat types, City of Melbourne Local Government
Area 2014 - 2015.
S G F S G F S G F S G F
4 1 1 - - - 1 1 1 - - -
21 16 9 19 15 13 16 14 8 6 6 5
- - - - - - 1 1 1 - - -
47 23 21 35 20 22 14 10 10 16 10 10
- - - - - - - - - - - -
44 35 13 30 23 16 26 23 11 8 7 5
36 21 14 36 16 12 31 17 10 10 9 6
1 1 1 - - - - - - - - -
3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - - -
4 4 4 - - - 3 3 3 - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - -
3 2 2 2 1 1 - - - - - -
1 1 1 - - - 3 3 2 - - -
2 1 1 3 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 1
- - - - - - - - - - - -
166 106 67 126 77 65 98 74 46 42 33 26
LawnTreeMid-storey Grassland
Coleoptera
Lepidoptera
Hemiptera
Hymenoptera
Diptera
Neuroptera
Trichoptera
Odonata
Blattodea
Mantodea
Orthoptera
Thysanoptera
Psocoptera
Dermaptera
Ephemeroptera
57
Lawn
Tree
Mid-storey
Grassland
11
1
4
5 2
68 58
91 12
18 4
2 6
29 1
Figure 5.2 A Venn diagram showing the distribution of insect species amongst mid-storey, grassland, tree
and lawn habitat types, City of Melbourne Local Government Area 2014 - 2015. The non-intersecting areas
indicate the number of unique species. The intersecting areas indicate the number of shared species. The
white area in the centre of the diagram indicates species that were common to all four habitat types.
58
Panel 16 Tree habitat type (opposite page)
The prickly-leaved paperbark Melaleuca stypheloides (front left) was
one of the six tree species surveyed in Princes Park. It represents a
perfect example of the tree habitat type investigated in this project.
The tree habitat type was represented in the present
investigation by 27 tree species. Of these, 13 were
exotic and 14 were native to Australia. Exotic species
were predominantly tall deciduous trees of European
origin including narrow-leaved ash Fraxinus angustifolia
(Panel 13), the London plaintree Platanus acerifolia
(Panel 12), English oak Quercus robur and English
elm Ulmus procera, reaching heights of approx. 15 m.
Native trees included drooping sheoak Allocasuarina
verticillata, black paperback Melaleuca lanceolata,
giant honey-myrtle Melaleuca armillaris, spotted gum
Corymbia maculata, Moreton Bay g Ficus macrophylla
and brush box Lophostemon confertus.
Box 5.1 Tree habitat type
59
60
Panel 17 Mid-storey habitat type (opposite page)
This mid-storey plot in Women’s Peace Gardens was characterised
by its non-native shrub and graminoid species, including lavander
(Lavandula sp.), rock rose (Cistus sp.), African iris (Dietes sp.) and
rosemary (Rosmarinus sp.).
Mid-storey plots were characterised by a highly variable
inter-site oristic species diversity consisting of approx.
130 plant species. This habitat type comprised a mid-
layer of ora with structurally diverse species ranging
from (1) low to tall shrubs such as spotted laurel
Aucuba japonica, sweet bursaria Bursaria spinosa and
oleander Nerium oleander; (2) broad-leaved species
such as bear’s breaches Acanthus mollis and big-leafed
hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla; and (3) graminoids
such as canna lily Canna generalis and bush lily Clivia
miniata. Planting schemes, and associated species
composition, reected the general character of the
different green space sites. For example, mid-storey
plots within the native-revegetated Westgate Park
supported locally indigenous species including tree
everlasting Ozothamnus ferrugineus, fragrant saltbush
Rhagodia parabolica (Panel 11) and gold-dusted wattle
Acacia acinacea. Comparatively, Fitzroy-Treasury
Gardens maintained species collections reective
of their European genesis and were dominated by
ornamental species such as sacred bamboo Nandina
domestica, pride of Madeira Echium candicans, glossy
abelia Abelia grandiora and bird of paradise Strelitzia
reginae.
Box 5.2 Mid-storey habitat type
61
62
Panel 18 Grassland habitat type (opposite page)
This grassland plot in Royal Park was characterised by a few native and
non-native grass species. Included among the native species was the
kangaroo grass Themeda triandra, which may be distinguished in the
photo by its golden-orange coloration.
Grassland plots were dominated by approx. 20 plant
species with habitat characterised by robust tussock
species to approx. one metre tall. Frequently recorded
native species included common tussock-grass Poa
labillardierei, spiny-headed mat-rush Lomandra
longifolia, kangaroo grass Themeda triandra (Panel
18) and wallaby grass Rytidosperma sp.. Inter-tussock
spaces supported a low diversity of native and exotic
herbs including Asteraceae species such as shiny
everlasting Xerochrysum viscosum, clustered everlasting
Chrysocephalum semipapposum, cut-leaf daisy
Brachyscome multida, as well as small shrubs such
as nodding saltbush Einadia nutans and ruby saltbush
Enchylaena tomentosa. One grassland plot located in
Royal Park (an area under an irregular slashing regime)
was dominated by the exotic grass Avena barbata
(bearded oat).
Box 5.3 Grassland habitat type
63
64
Panel 19 Lawn habitat type (opposite page)
Lawn habitat type was mostly dominated by two non-native grass
species: kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) and couch (Cynodon
dactylon). In the photo, one of the nine lawn plots surveyed in Royal
Park.
Forty-six exotic plant species were recorded across the
green space sites’ lawns, comprising 19 grass species
and 26 herbs. Lawn habitat was characterised by low-
cut, traditional lawn-grass species variously dominated
by couch grass Cynodon dactylon and kikuyu grass
Pennisetum clandestinum. Additional common grass-
species, recorded with relatively high cover, included
annual meadow-grass Poa annua, rye grass Lolium
sp. and brome Bromus sp.. Small herbaceous species
were scattered throughout the lawns, with sites
subject to less frequent mowing regimes supporting
a greater abundance of forbs. Common herbaceous
species included white clover Trifolium repens, garden
dandelion Taraxacum ofcinale and ribwort Plantago
lanceolata.
Box 5.4 Lawn habitat type
65
66
67
Our ndings indicate that the following 16 insect
orders occur in the City of Melbourne: Blattodea
(Cockroaches and termites), Coleoptera (Beetles),
Dermaptera (Earwings), Diptera (Flies, mosquitoes
and midges), Ephemeroptera (Mayies), Hemiptera
(true bugs), Hymenoptera (Wasps, bees and ants),
Lepidoptera (Butteries and moths), Mantodea
(Mantis), Neuroptera (Lacewings), Odonata
(Dragonies and damselies), Orthoptera
(Grasshoppers and crickets), Psocoptera (Booklice),
Siphonaptera (Fleas), Thysanoptera (Thrips) and
Trichoptera (Caddisies). We provide in Panel 20
a visual identication key to the above-mentioned
insect orders (excepting Siphonaptera).
The number of species, genera and families
documented in each order was reported in Chapter
3 (Table 3.1), as well as the number of species
documented in each order by each data source
(Table 3.2). In Chapter 4, we reported the number of
species, genera and families documented by order
in each public green space investigated (Table 4.1;
Table 4.2), and in Chapter 5 we reported the number
of species, genera and families documented by
order in each habitat type (Table 5.1). Next, we
provide a more detailed account and discussion
of our ndings for each one of the ve main insect
orders: Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera,
Hemiptera and Diptera.
Order Coleoptera (Beetles; Box 6.1)
Our ndings indicate that 605 beetle species occur
in the City of Melbourne (Table 3.1). Coleoptera
is by far the most diverse insect order in the City
of Melbourne, accounting for almost 50% of the
municipality’s insect species richness (Figure 3.1).
In fact, there are almost 150% more beetle species
than species of butteries and moths, and as much
as 200% more beetle species than species of wasps,
Chapter 6
Insect orders
68
The order Coleoptera, commonly referred to as beetles,
is the most diverse group of organisms on Earth, with
approximately 375,000 described species (Bouchard et
al. 2009). Over 22,000 beetle species are known from
Australia (Yeates et al. 2003), of which approximately
30% are weevils (family Curculionidae) (Lawrence and
Britton 1991).
Most beetle species are easily recognised by their
hardened forewings, also known as elytra, which allow
beetles to protect their membranous ight hindwings
(Lawrence and Britton 1991). Beetles ll multiple
functional groups, including herbivores, predators,
scavengers and fungivores. Three of the most diverse
beetle families have close herbivorous relationships
with owering plants: weevils (Family Curculionidae),
longhorn beetles (Family Cerambycidae) and leaf
beetles (Family Chrysomelidae) (Bouchard et al. 2009).
Perhaps the most instantly recognisable beetles are
perhaps the ladybugs (Family Coccinellidae), which
present rounded and brightly coloured bodies with
dark spots. Beetle species occur in both terrestrial and
aquatic environments (Bouchard et al. 2009).
Box 6.1 Coleoptera
Panel 20 A visual identication key to the insect orders found in the
City of Melbourne (opposite page)
bees and ants.
The most frequently recorded beetle in the targeted
survey was the brown minute scavenger beetle
Corticaria sp. (Panel 5), accounting for almost 50%
of all beetle records. The species was also the most
frequently recorded insect species in the study
(Figure 3.3). In our survey, we found Corticaria sp.
scavenging in association with 50 different plant
species. Moreover, it was one of the few insect
species to be recorded in all green space sites and
habitat types. Widespread and abundant, the brown
minute scavenger beetle Corticaria sp. is without a
doubt one of the invisible yet utterly fundamental
little things that run the city! The cover illustration
has been dedicated to this underappreciated
species.
The second most common beetle was the soldier
beetle Chauliognathus lugubris (Panel 21), which
accounted for approx. 6% of all beetle records.
This native species is well known to form massive
mating swarms (Panel 22). The immature stage
69
Start
here
70
Panel 21 The soldier beetle Chauliognathus lugubris (opposite page)
of this species has a predatory feeding behavior,
while adults are nectarivores and palynivores (ie,
they feed on pollen) (Museum Victoria 2015d).
The third most frequently occurring species was
the common spotted ladybug Harmonia conformis,
accounting for 4% of all beetle records. Both the
immature and adult stages of this native species are
known predators of aphids and other small insects
and arachnids.
Another interesting frequently recorded species
was the elm leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola
(Figure 6.1). This non-native species was rst
recorded in Victoria in 1989 (Museum Victoria
2015b). Both the immature and adult stages of this
species are herbivores, and are known to be tightly
associated with elm trees (Ulmus spp.). Thus not
unexpectedly, we found Xanthogaleruca luteola
living on Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens’s English elms
(Ulmus procera). In our survey, however, the species
was also found in association with the native brush
box Lophostemon confertus, and three exotic
ornamentals (Agapanthus praecox, Asparagus
aethiopicus and Argyranthemum sp.). These series
of observations has led us to hypothesise that this
novel association between the elm leaf beetle and
non-elm plants might represent an example of
host-switching by ecological tting (Agosta 2006).
Order Lepidoptera (Butteries and moths)
Lepidoptera is the second most diverse insect order
in the City of Melbourne, representing approx.
20% of the municipality’s insect species richness
(Figure 3.1). Our results indicate that 245 buttery
and moth species occur in the City of Melbourne
(Table 3.1), and that as many as 83% of these
species are moths (203 species), while the other
17% are butteries (42 species). Unquestionably,
the most substantial recent contribution to increase
the knowledge of Lepidoptera biodiversity in the
City of Melbourne was delivered by the 2014
Melbourne BioBlitz. Our data shows that the
BioBlitz’s nocturnal insect events increased the
number of moth species known for the City of
Melbourne by as much as 30%.
The most frequently recorded buttery in the
targeted insect survey was the white cabbage
71
72
Figure 6.1 The elm leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola in Fitzroy-
Treasury Gardens.
Panel 22 A mating swarm of soldier beetles (opposite page)
buttery Pieris rapae (Panel 23). This non-native
species was rst recorded in Australia in 1937
(Museum Victoria 2015a). The white cabbage
caterpillar is strongly associated with plants species
in the Brassicaceae family (Braby 2000).
Another interesting buttery species found in the
survey was the dingy swallowtail Papilio anactus.
Recorded in Carlton Gardens South, this native
species was not collected, but documented through
the photograph seen in Panel 24.
Perhaps the most unexpected moth species found
in our targeted survey was the diamondback moth
Plutella xylostella (Panel 7), which constituted
the rst record in the City of Melbourne of this
economically signicant pest of brassica crops.
Hymenoptera (Wasps, bees and ants)
Hymenoptera is the third most diversied insect
order in the City of Melbourne, representing
approx. 15% of the municipality’s insect species
richness (Figure 3.1). Our combined data indicates
that 198 Hymenoptera species occur in the City of
Melbourne (Table 3.1). Of these, 44% are wasps
(87 species), 40% bees (79 species) and 16% ants
(32 species).
The most frequently occurring Hymenoptera species
in the targeted insect survey was the European
honey bee Apis mellifera (Panel 6), accounting for
over 16% of all Hymenoptera records and for over
91% of all bee records. This species was also the
most frequently occurring specialised pollinator
and the most frequently occurring non-native
species.
73
74
Figure 6.2 The native Australian bee Homalictus sphecodoides (Source
Linda Rogan)
Panel 23 The cabbage buttery Pieris rapae (opposite page)
The two other bee species recorded in the targeted
survey were Homalictus sphecodoides (Figure 6.2)
and Homalictus punctatus. Both species of halictid
bees are native to Australia (Walker 2009a, 2009b).
Taken together, these native pollinators accounted
for less than 2% of all Hymenoptera records and
less than 10% of all bee records.
The second most common Hymenoptera species
was the orange caterpillar parasite wasp Netelia
producta (Figure 3.7). This species was also the
most frequently occurring parasitoid in the study.
Netelia producta accounted for 5% and 9% of all
Hymenoptera and all wasp records, respectively.
Another interesting wasp documented during the
insect survey was the European wasp Vespula
germanica. This non-native invasive social species
was rst recorded in mainland Australia in 1977
(Museum Victoria 2015c). European wasps are
both herbivores and predators, feeding on fruit,
nectar, insect exudates, insects and spiders (Kasper
et al. 2008).
The most frequently occurring ant was a species in the
native genus Iridomyrmex (Panel 25) [Iridomyrmex
sp. (splendens group)], which accounted for 19%
of all ant records. This species was also the most
frequently occurring seed disperser in the study.
Ants in this species are generalist predators and
scavengers that also tend Hemiptera for honeydew
and collect nectar.
The second most common ant was Nylanderia
rosae, which accounted for 17% of all ant records.
75
76
Panel 24 The dingy swallowtail (opposite page)
The dingy swallowtail Papilio anactus photographed during the insect
survey of Carlton Gardens South.
This species is endemic to Australia. Ants in this
species are generalist predators and scavengers
that supplement their diet with nectar.
Another interesting Australian endemic ant
recorded in the targeted survey was Prolasius
nitidissimus. The species accounted for 8% of all
ant records. The last Victorian record of Prolasius
nitidissimus in the Atlas of Living Australia (2015)
dates back to 1932; however, this species has
frequently been recorded in recent ant surveys in
Victoria (Andersen 1988, Brew et al. 1989). Ants in
this species are generalist predators and scavengers
that also feed on insect honeydew.
The most common non-native ant species was
the Argentine ant Linepithema humile, which also
accounted for 8% of all ant records. Argentine
ants are considered invasive species and there
is evidence that they are detrimental to native
arthropod communities in south-eastern Australia
(Rowles and O’Dowd 2009). Ants in this species
are generalist predators and scavengers that also
collect insect honeydew and oral nectar.
Hemiptera (True bugs; Box 6.2)
Hemiptera is the fourth most diversied insect order
in the City of Melbourne, representing approx. 9%
of the municipality’s species richness (Figure 3.1).
Our results show that 118 species of Hemiptera
are found in the City of Melbourne (Table 3.1). Of
these, 20% are psyllids or other Sternorrhyncha
species (24 species), 31% leafhoppers or other
Figure 6.3 The Rutherglen bug Nysius vinitor walking on a native
Asteraceae (‘Grasslands’ Installation, State Library of Victoria)
77
78
Panel 25 Ant head (opposite page)
A stacked microphotograph of an ant species in the genus
Iridomyrmex (Source: www.antweb.org)
Panel 26 The passionvine treehopper Scolypopa australis (page 81)
Auchenorrhyncha species (37 species) and 49%
heteropteran bugs (57 species).
The most frequently occurring Hemiptera in the
insect survey was an empoascine leafhopper
[Typhlocybinae 2] (Figure 3.5), which accounted
for 19% of all Hemiptera records. This leafhopper
was also the third most frequently occurring species
in the study (Figure 3.3). Interestingly, the second
most common Auchenorrhyncha species was
another empoascine leafhopper [Typhlocybinae
1]. This latter species accounted only for 6%
of all Hemiptera records. As all other species of
Auchenorrhyncha, these species are herbivores;
however, empoascine leafhoppers are specialised
herbivores capable of extracting nutrients directly
from the plant’s leaves internal cells (Fletcher 2009.
The next most common Auchenorrhyncha species
were the grey planthopper Anzora unicolor and
the passionvine planthopper Scolypopa australis
(Panel 26), which accounted each for approx. 3%
of all Hemiptera records. Both species are native
to Australia.
The second most common Hemiptera was the
Rutherglen bug Nysius vinitor (Figure 6.3),
accounting for 11% of all Hemiptera
records. This heteropteran bug was
one of only eleven species to be
documented in all four investigated
habitat types. This native species is
widespread and abundant, and considered
a generalist herbivore (Malipatil 2007). The
second most common heteropteran bug
was the Pacic damsel bug Nabis kinbergii
(Figure 3.6), which accounted for approx. 6%
of all Hemiptera records. This heteropteran
bug was also the most frequently occurring
predatory species recorded in the study. As the
Rutherglen bug, the damsel bug Nabis kinbergii
was one of the few species to be recorded in all
the four studied habitat types. The species is widely
distributed in Australia. The third most common
heteropteran bug species was the broad-headed
bug Mutusca brevicornis (Figure 6.4), accounting
79
80
Box 6.2 Hemiptera
The Hemiptera is the fourth most diverse insect order
in the world, with over 100,000 described species
(Alder and Foottit 2009). Of these, only 4,000 species
have been recorded in Australia (Yeates et al. 2003).
Hemipteran bugs or true bugs are characterised by
their piercing-sucking mouthparts, which have been
modied into a hard but exible beak specialised in
extracting nutrients from plants and animals (Carver et
al. 1991). Most true bugs are herbivores, yet the group
also includes predatory and omnivorous species. Most
true bugs are terrestrial, with a few groups living in
aquatic environments. The order is divided into three
suborders: Sternorrhyncha, Auchenorrhyncha and
Heteroptera, which we briey describe below.
Sternorrhyncha The Sternorrhyncha are represented
by aphids, whiteies, psyllids, coccids, mealybugs and
scale insects (Carver et al. 1991). All species in this
group are herbivores. Psyllids are particularly interesting
as most of species form ‘lerps’, specialised sugary
structures evolved to prevent or minimise desiccation.
Also interesting is the fact that most Australian psyllids
have close associations with Eucalyptus (Austin et al.
2004), a good example of plant-insect co-evolution.
Auchenorrhyncha The Auchenorrhyncha are
represented by cicadas, leafhoppers, treehoppers and
froghoppers (Carver et al. 1991). As Sternorrhyncha,
all species in this group are herbivores. Male cicadas
can perform impressive songs thanks to their complex
sound producing organs. The ‘gum treehoppers’ (family
Eurymelidae), a predominantly Australian group, is
characterised by gregarious species that live in close
association with Eucalyptus, where they are attended
by ants (Austin et al. 2004).
Heteroptera The Heteroptera are represented, amongst
others, by plant bugs, shield bugs (Panel 27), assassin
bugs, damsel bugs, stilt bugs and seed bugs. There are
over 40,000 described heteropteran bug species in
the world (Henry 2009), with approx. 2,000 species
occurring in Australia (Austin et al. 2004). Most
heteropteran bugs are either herbivores or predators
(Mata 2013). Herbivorous species feed on roots, leaves,
owers, pollen, buds, seeds, fern fronds and fungi
mycelia, while predatory species prey upon insects
and spiders. Predatory heteropteran bugs, through their
capacity to regulate pest populations, are essential for
ecosystem functioning and resilience against disturbance
in human-dominated environments. Heteropteran bugs
successfully utilise a large number of different habitats
(Schuh and Slater 1995). They have been found living in
association with ants, termites and spiders. Some species
present adaptations that allow them to thrive on water
surfaces or to live a true under water existence. Some
species live in the intertidal zone, while others venture
into the open ocean. They have been recorded from all
vegetation strata in all ecozones and bioregions of the
world. They are also ubiquitous in urban environments,
including ruderalised margins, gardens, parks and golf
courses (Mata 2013, Mata et al. 2014).
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Panel 27 A shield bug (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) (opposite page)
for approx. 4% of all Hemiptera records. As can be
appreciated in Figure 6.4, the broad-headed bug
has evolved to mimic the Australian native grasses
it lives and feeds on. Not unexpectedly, we only
found Mutusca brevicornis living in association with
native grass and graminoid species (eg, Lomandra
longifolia, Poa labillardierei and Rytidosperma sp.).
In a recent investigation into the conservation value
of heteropteran bugs conducted in south-eastern
Melbourne’s green spaces, Mutusca brevicornis
and Nabis kinbergii were the most frequently
Figure 6.4 The broad-headed bug Mutusca brevicornis photographed
in a grassland plot in Westgate Park.
occurring herbivore and predator, respectively (L
Mata et al., in preparation).
Taken together, the jumping plant lice or psyllids
were the most frequently occurring group of
Sternorrhyncha, accounting for approx. 8% of
all Hemiptera records. In our targeted survey
we recorded 10 genera, including Acizzia,
Agelaeopsylla, Anoeconessa, Cardiaspina, Creiis,
Ctenarytaina, Glycaspis, Mycopsylla, Phellopsylla
and Trioza. With very few exceptions, jumping
plant lice were found living in association with
native trees and shrubs. The immature stages of
these and other plant lice genera may produce
lerps, which are protective crystallised structures
made out of the insect’s sugary exudates (ie,
honeydew) (Carver et al. 1991). The other group
of Sternorrhyncha found in the insect survey were
aphids (Panel 28), which accounted for 3% of all
Hemiptera records. Both plant louse and aphid
species are specialised herbivores that feed by
sucking sap out of the phloem sieve tube elements
of their host plants (Risebrow and Dixon 1987).
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84
Panel 28 Aphids (opposite page)
Diptera (Flies, mosquitoes and midges)
Diptera is the fth most diversied insect order
in the City of Melbourne, accounting for approx.
8% of the municipality’s insect species richness
(Figure 3.1). Our ndings indicate that 105 species
of ies, mosquitoes and midges occur in the City
of Melbourne (Table 3.1). As much as 76% of all
Diptera species occurring in the City of Melbourne
belong in the suborder Brachycera, which includes
the dipteran species that are commonly known
as ies. The remaining 24% belong in suborder
Nematocera, which includes mosquitoes and
midges.
The most frequently occurring Diptera and
Brachycera in the insect survey was the lawn y
Hydrellia tritici (Figure 3.4), which represented
approx. 19% of all Diptera records. The lawn y
was also the second most common species in the
whole study, and one of the very few species to
be found in association with the four habitat types
investigated. The second most frequently found
Nematocera was a species of house y [Muscidae
1], which accounted for 9% of all Diptera records.
Adult house ies are detritivores (ie, they feed on
decomposing organic matter), and as such they
play a critical role in recycling nutrients in both
urban and non-urban ecosystems.
An interesting Brachycera family frequently found
in the targeted insect survey was Agromyzidae.
Species in this family are commonly referred to
as leaf-miming ies. The immature stages of these
species are specialised herbivores. They feed by
drilling tunnels within the leaf tissue of plants. We
found ve species of leaf-mining ies in the insect
survey, which accounted for approx. 7% of all
Diptera records.
The most frequently occurring predatory
Brachycera found in the survey was a species of
Hemerodromia. Like other well know predatory
insects such as mantises (order Mantodea) and
mantispid lacewings (order Neuroptera), adult
Hemerodromia species have raptorial legs, one of
the most distinct examples of convergent evolution
in the insect world.
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86
Panel 29 Flower-visiting ies (opposite page)
From top left in clockwise direction: a tephritid fruit y in Carlton
Gardens South, the hovery Melangyna viridiceps in the ‘Grasslands’
Installation, a blow y in Women’s Peace Garden and another
species of tephritid fruit y in the ‘Grasslands’ Installation. All ies on
Asteraceae. Blow y photo by Michaela Plein.
Taken together, the eleven species of nonbiting
midges (family Chironomidae) were the most
common Nematocera group recorded in the
insect survey. They accounted for approx. 14%
of all Diptera records. The aquatic immature
stages of nonbiting midges are detritivores, and
therefore contribute to recycle nutrients in aquatic
ecosystems. Adult nonbiting midges, as they
name implies, are not hematophagous (ie, feeding
on the blood of human or other mammals) but
indirect herbivores, feeding for example on nectar,
pollen and honeydew. While on the subject of
hematophagy, it is interesting to note that our
insect survey data includes only two records of
hematophagous species. These were a species of
sandy [Ceratopogonidae 1], which was found
once in Royal Park associated with Melaleuca
viminalis, and a species of mosquito [Culicidae 1],
which was found once in Carlton Gardens South
associated with Agapanthus praecox.
Perhaps the most interesting Nematocera found in
the targeted insect survey were a species of fungus
gnat [Mycetophilidae 1] and a species of gall
midge [Cecidomyiidae 1]. Both species have quite
distinct ecological features. Adult fungus gnats are
amongst the few Diptera species, and amongst
the few insect species for that matter, that feed
on fungi. Immature stages of gall midges on the
other hand are amongst the few Diptera and insect
species that have evolved the capacity to induce
in plant tissue the abnormal outgrowths known as
‘galls’.
Many ower-visiting y species were also
documented during the targeted insect survey
(Panel 29). The role that ies play in pollination
will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 8.
87
88
89
Chapter 7
Ecological interactions
No insect is an island. As in every other type
of ecosystem, insects in urban ecosystems are
entangled in a complex network of ecological
interactions (Bascompte 2009). These interactions
can be antagonistic, as when one species gains
benet from interacting with another. Good
examples of antagonistic interactions are those
linking (1) herbivores with their host plants, (2)
predatory species with their prey, and (3) parasitoids
with their host organisms. Ecological interactions
can also be mutualistic, as when species derive a
mutual benet from interacting with each other.
Good examples of mutualistic interactions are
those linking owering plants with their pollinators
and seed dispersers. Other types of mutualistic
interactions are also established between plant
and insects, for example the ones linking predatory
insects with their prey’s host plants. Here, we use
results from our targeted plant-insect survey to
draw a broad picture of how plants and insects
interact in the City of Melbourne.
Our ndings suggest that at least 575 plant-insect
interactions occur in public green spaces within
the City of Melbourne. Naturally, some interactions
were observed more often than others, which
we used here as a proxy of interaction strength.
We rst explored the nature of the plant-insect
interactions and their strength by aggregating the
plant species to family level and insect data to
order level, and plotted the resulting matrix into a
heat map (Figure 7.1). Our plant-insect interaction
data suggests that the strongest interaction between
an insect order and a plant family exist between
Hemiptera and Poaceae (dark blue cell in Figure
7.1). Hemiptera were also closely associated with
Fabaceae and Myrtaceae. Our data further suggests
close associations between Coleoptera and
Myrtaceae, Diptera and Chenopodiaceae, Diptera
90
Panel 30 A honey bee (Apis mellifera) collecting nectar from a white
clover (Trifolium repens) (opposite page)
and Poaceae, Hymenoptera and Myrtaceae, and
Hymenoptera and Poacaeae. Poaceae species in our
plant-insect interactions dataset included weeping
grass Microlaena stipoides, common tussock-grass
Poa labillardierei, wallaby grass Rytidosperma sp.
and kangaroo grass Themeda triandra, all of which
are native grasses. The legume family Fabaceae was
mostly represented by ve native wattle species
(Acacia acinacea, A. cognata, A. mearnsii, A.
melanoxylon and A. verniciua). The myrtle family
Myrtaceae was represented by nine native species
of Callistemon, Eucalyptus, Kunzea, Lophostemon
and Melaleuca. Finally, the goosefoot family
Chenopodiaceae was represented by two native
shrubs: the ruby saltbush Enchylaena tomentosa
and the fragrant saltbush Rhagodia parabolica.
We were also interested in exploring the links
associating insect herbivores with their host plant
families in more detail (Figure 7.2). Our results
show that the strongest interaction between
herbivores and plants were those linking broad-
head bugs (Alydidae) with native grasses (Poaceae),
and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae) with native wattles
(Fabaceae) (dark green cells in Figure 7.2). Our
results further indicate that some herbivores
showed strong specialisation patterns. This was the
case of heteropteran bugs in the families Blissidae,
Cryptorhamphidae and Pachygronthidae,
which we documented only in association with
Poacaeae. It was also the case for the planthopper
family Delphacidae, which we found associated
exclusively with Xanthorrhoeaceae, a plant
family represented by the native spiny-head mat-
rush Lomandra longifolia. Likewise, the lacebug
family Tingidae was documented exclusively
on Chenopodiaceae and Myrtaceae. Finally,
we assessed the direct interaction links between
herbivorous insect species and their host plants.
The strongest antagonistic interaction documented
between a native insect species and a native plant
host was found between the pachygronthid bug
Stenophyella macreta (Hemiptera: Pachygronthidae)
and a species of wallaby grass (Rytidosperma sp.).
Taken together, our results highlight the key role
that native plant species are playing in structuring
interaction networks in urban ecosystems within the
City of Melbourne. This has important implications
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92
Panel 31 A predatory shield bug (Oechalia schellenbergii) on tansy
(Tanecetum vulgare) (page 95)
for stake-holders involved in developing
conservation strategies or policy. Efforts aimed
at preserving the structure of species interaction
networks may be equally important to achieve
conservation goals to those aimed exclusively at
preserving the species that anchor these networks
together (Tylianakis et al. 2010).
An equally strong interaction however was
documented between the English elm Ulmus
procera, a non-native species, and a native
generalist species of empoascine leafhopper
[Typhlocybinae 2] (Figure 3.5). It is interesting to
note that the planned introduction of the English
elm into the City of Melbourne’s public green
spaces has been also associated in this study to
the concomitant unplanned introduction of the
non-native elm leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola
(Figure 6.1) and the host-switching of this later
species to native tree species such as the brush box
Lophostemon confertus. These latter set of ndings
constitute a good example of how the introduction
of non-native species into new environments may
modify the structure of interaction networks in
unforeseen ways; some of which may turn out to
be detrimental (eg, if leaf elm beetles become a
pest of bush box).
We also explored the interactions between the
main ower-visiting insect species and host plant
families (Figure 7.3). Our ndings indicate that the
strongest ower-visiting insect-plant interactions
were between non-native insects and non-native
plants. Specically, between Lamiaceae plant
species and the European honey bee Apis mellifera
(Panel 6) and the cabbage buttery Pieris rapae
(Panel 23) (dark orange and red cells in Figure 7.3).
The mint family Lamiaceae was represented by non-
native species of Lavandula, Mentha, Plectranthus,
Rosmarinus, Salvia and Stachys. At the plant
species level, the strongest interaction between
the honey bee and Lamiaceae was with the white
clover Trifolium repens (Panel 30). This nding
conrms those from previous studies reporting the
strong association between honey bees and white
clover, and their successful performance as white
clover pollinators (Goodman and Williams 1994,
Goodwin et al. 2011). In the City of Melbourne
the white clover is associated exclusively with the
93
Anacardiaceae
Apocynaceae
Amaryllidaceae
Acanthaceae
Alliaceae
Coleoptera
Lepidoptera
Hemiptera
Hymenoptera
Diptera
Neuroptera
Blattodea
Mantodea
Orthoptera
Thysanoptera
Psocoptera
Dermaptera
Boroginaceae
Buxaceae
Berbendaceae
Asparagaceae
Asteraceae
Chenopodiaceae
Cistaceae
Casuarinaceae
Cannaceae
Caprifoliaceae
Garryaceae
Goodeniaceae
Fagaceae
Cyperaceae
Fabaceae
Moraceae
Myoporaceae
Hydrangeaceae
Lamiaceae
Platariaceae
Poaceae
Pittosporaceae
Myrtaceae
Phormiaceae
Tiliaceae
Ulmaceae
Rutaceae
Proteaceae
Ranunculaceae
Xanthorrhoeaceae
0
51510 2520
30
Figure 7.1 A heat map representing the number of documented interactions between plant families (horizontal
axis) and insect orders (vertical axis). As the legend indicates, light blue represents fewer number of interactions
and dark blue represents higher number of interactions. White cells represent no documented interactions
between the corresponding plant family and insect order.
94
Figure 7.2 A heat map representing the number of documented interactions between plant families (horizontal
axis) and insects in the main herbivorous families (vertical axis). As the legend indicates, light green represents
fewer number of interactions and dark green represents higher number of interactions. White cells represent no
documented interactions between the corresponding plant family and insect family.
95
96
lawn habitat type.
Although the strongest interaction of the European
honey bee Apis mellifera was with white clover, and
more generally with Lamiaceae, this specialised
pollinator was also closely associated with a wide
range of plant families (Figure 7.3), including a few
native Myrtaceae genera such as Lophostemon and
Kunzea. This suggest that the pollination network
of public green spaces in the City of Melbourne
is dominated by this ‘supergeneralist’ non-native
species, which is well aligned with previous studies
reporting Apis mellifera pollinating on a wide range
of plant species (eg, Giannini et al. 2015).
On the other hand, the only two ower-visiting
insect species known to be native specialised
pollinators, the halictid bees Homalictus punctatus
and H. sphecodoides, were only documented in
Fabaceae and Poaceae, respectively. Homalictus
puntactus was documented exclusively on a
native Fabaceae shrub, the varnish wattle Acacia
verniciua, while we found H. sphecodoides only
on the native Poaceae wallaby grass Rytidosperma
sp. and kangaroo grass Themeda triandra. These
ndings suggest that native plant species play an
important role for native bees within mutualistic
interaction networks in the City of Melbourne’s
public green spaces.
The plant-insect interaction patterns reported in
this chapter will need to be corroborated with
further empirical data. As we have previously
noted in this report, we are in the process of sorting
more led material that will certainly contribute to
increase the resolution of the analysed interaction
network(s). We also believe that a research-
oriented citizen science program specically
aimed at documenting plant-insect interactions in
both public and private green spaces could go a
long way in ne-tuning our picture of the way in
which plants and insects are interconnected in the
City of Melbourne.
97
Figure 7.3 A heat map representing the number of documented interactions between plant families
(horizontal axis) and ower-visiting insect species (vertical axis). As the legend indicates, yellow represents
fewer number of interactions and red represents higher number of interactions. White cells represent no
documented interactions between the corresponding plant family and insect species.
98
99
Chapter 8
Ecological processes and ecosystem services
In Chapters 3 through 6 we have elaborated on
how the City of Melbourne’s public green spaces
support insect biodiversity. And in Chapter 7 we
introduced the idea that this insect biodiversity
does not stand in isolation, but is interconnected
in a complex network of ecological interactions.
In the present chapter we use our targeted survey
data to illustrate:
(1) how insect species and their life history
strategies and interactions are directly linked
with urban ecological processes, and
(2) how these processes are linked to ecosystem
services that benet human city-dwellers.
Here, we follow the classication of urban
ecosystem services reported in Gómez-Baggethun
et al. (2013), who grouped ecosystem services in
four categories: (i) regulating, (ii) provisioning,
(iii) cultural, and (iv) supporting and habitat. We
only documented the rst two being delivered by
insects here. Furthermore, we will illustrate how
the life history strategies of some insect species are
also linked to a series of ecosystem disservices that
may affect urban inhabitants.
Regulating ecosystem services
We begin by exploring the links between insects,
their feeding strategies, the ecological processes
these strategies generate, and the regulating
ecosystem services that these processes have
the potential to deliver (Figure 8.1). Our ndings
indicate that a total of 71 links connect the insect
groups investigated with the feeding strategies they
employ to complete their life cycles (left part of Figure
8.1). The most dominant feeding strategy amongst
insect in the City of Melbourne’s was herbivory,
accounting for 46% of all links. Herbivores may be
further sub-divided in seven feeding specialisations
(dot-margined box in Figure 8.1): (1) exudativores,
100
specialising on plant and/or insect exudates such as
sap, gum and honeydew; (2) folivores, specialising
on leaf tissue; (3) graminivores, specialising in
grasses; (4) nectarivores, specialising in pollen; (5)
palynivores, specialising in pollen; (6) granivores,
specialising in seeds; and (7) xylovores, specialising
in wood. Of these, the folivores were the dominant
group, accounting for 46% of all herbivory links.
The second and third most dominant feeding
strategies were predation and parasitoidism,
representing 19% and 17%, respectively, of all
links. The less dominant strategies were detritivory
(ie, consumption of decomposing organic matter),
scavenging (ie, consumption of dead organic
matter), fungivory (ie, consumption of fungi)
and elaiosome consumers (ie, consumption of
nutritious structures attached to seeds). These
strategies together accounted for 18% of all links.
Our results also show that the feeding strategies
employed by insects within the City of Melbourne’s
public green spaces may be linked with at least
four key ecological processes occurring within
these urban ecosystems (green box in Figure 8.1):
(1) transformation of nutrients into biomass, a
process whereby insect-consumed plant, fungi and
animal nutrients are assimilated and metabolised,
guaranteeing the ow of matter and energy through
the food chain; (2) nutrient re-cycling, a process
whereby scavengers, detritivores and xylovores
facilitate decomposition, and thus the movement
of nutrients back into the soil and water; (3) biotic
pollination, a process whereby nectarivores and
palynivores, but also other ower-visiting insects,
enable plant fertilisation by transferring pollen
grains to the plant’s female reproductive organs; and
(4) ant-mediated seed dispersal, a process whereby
adult ants transport elaiosome-bearing seeds away
from their parent plants. Our insect data suggests
that this later process is being carried out in the City
of Melbourne’s public green spaces by ant species
of Aphaenogaster, Iridomyrmex and Rhytidoponera
(A Andersen, personal communication).
Finally, our ndings indicate that the ecological
process mediated by insects in public green spaces
within the City of Melbourne may contribute to
deliver at least four regulating ecosystem services
(blue box in Figure 8.1): (1) biological pest control,
which is delivered when insect natural enemies
(also called biological control agents) regulate
populations of insect pests, noxious weeds and
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Figure 8.1 Relationships between insect orders, feeding strategies,
ecosystem processes and regulating ecosystem services. DIP: Diptera;
HEM: Hemiptera; HYM: Hymenoptera; LEP: Lepidoptera; IS: Immature
stage; A: Adults. The black down-pointed arrows indicate that the
immature stages are fed by the adults. The dark x indicates the species
does not feed during the adult stage.
102
plant diseases; (2) soil fertility, which is delivered
when insects contribute to retain in the soil basic
plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous,
as well as soil-improving organic matter; (3)
pollination of crop and ornamental plants, which
is delivered when insect specialised pollinators
and other ower-visiting insects contribute to
fertilise urban crops (eg, fruits and vegetables)
and plants that are grown for decorative purposes;
and (4) persistence of myrmecochorous plants (ie,
plants that are naturally dispersed by ants), which
is delivered when the viability of plants with
elaiosome-bearing seeds is increased through ant-
mediated seed dispersal.
Provisioning ecosystem services
Provisioning ecosystem services are goods that are
obtained directly from ecosystems, for example
food, water, wood and medicines (Gómez-
Baggethun et al. 2013). Our results indicate that
the City of Melbourne’s insects may supply at
least two types of food: honey and lerps. Honey
is mostly produced by social bees (Hymenoptera:
Apidae). In our study, we documented only one
species of honey-producing bee, namely the non-
native European honey bee Apis mellifera (Panel
6 and Panel 30). Major initiatives are presently
being conducted in the City of Melbourne to raise
awareness of the importance of honey-producing
bees such as Apis mellifera (see for example
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey 2015).
Lerps are crystallised protective structures made out
of the sugar-rich liquid honeydew exudated by the
immature stages of jumping plant lice (Hemiptera:
Psyllidae). Although not that well-known as a food
source to most people, lerps are one of the main
types of sweet foods gathered and consumed by
Aboriginal Australians (Turner 1984).
Ecosystem disservices
Next, we explore the links between insects and the
ecosystem disservices that they may cause (Figure
8.2). Our ndings indicate that insects found in the
targeted insect survey may potentially cause one
or more of the following six ecosystem disservices
(red box in Figure 8.2): (1) human discomfort, for
example a skin rash produced by a mosquito’s
bite; (2) allergic reactions, which for example may
follow the injection of venom from a wasp’s sting;
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Figure 8.2 Relationships between insect orders, life history strategies and ecosystem disservices. DIP:
Diptera; HEM: Hemiptera; HYM: Hymenoptera; LEP: Lepidoptera; IS: Immature stage; A: Adults.
104
(3) transmission of human diseases, for example
diseases carried by blood sucking insects such as
mosquitoes; (4) plant damage, for example the
English elm leaf ‘skeletonisation’ (ie, the whole
leaf is eaten except for its veins) caused by the leaf
elm beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola (Figure 6.1);
and (5) damage to stored products, for example
when the red-rust our beetle Tribolium castaneum
(Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) infests stored cereal
grain. At least two types of insect behaviours,
namely feeding and defensive (orange box in
Figure 8.2), are associated with causing ecosystem
disservices. For example, hematophagous insects
such as mosquitoes may cause discomfort, allergies
and/or vectorise a disease in humans by the simple
act of feeding on its preferred source of food
(ie, human blood). On the other hand, the non-
native European wasp Vespula germanica may on
occasions feel threatened by people, for example
if a person inadvertently gets to close to its source
of food. This action may trigger the wasp’s innate
defense mechanisms, which may lead them to
attack and sting the person.
105
Chapter 9
Recommendations for management and
practice
Based on the evidence gained through this
study, we present below a set of four practical
recommendations that we believe can substantially
contribute to the insect conservation agenda in the
City of Melbourne.
Recommendation 1: Incorporate insect habitat
into existing and new green space planning
Results from the Little Things that Run the City
project provides new and vital information to
enable the City of Melbourne to plan for and
manage biodiverse green spaces. Our ndings, for
example, provide strong evidence of the positive
effects of the mid-storey and grassland habitat
types on insect biodiversity, and of the key role
that native plant species are playing in structuring
interaction networks. Incorporating more native
grasses and shrubs in existing established green
spaces, as well as in other novel spaces such as
temporary installations, pop-up parks, median
strips, nature strips, ornamental beds, perennial
meadows, greenroofs and greenwalls, could go
a long way to promote insect biodiversity in the
municipality. Beyond this, and arguably much
more appealingly, some or all of these greening
interventions could be aimed at re-wilding the City
of Melbourne with insect species that used to live
here but are presently absent.
Recommendation 2: Develop a long-term insect
monitoring program
We believe a long-term insect monitoring program
could greatly benet from monitoring (1) rare
species, (2) potentially problematic non-native
106
species, and (3) benecial species.
Monitoring rare species
As discussed in Chapter 3, as many as 220 insects
species in the City of Melbourne have not been
found in over 50 years. A long-term monitoring
scheme could be specically aimed at conrming
the occurrence of these species in the City of
Melbourne.
Monitoring potentially problematic non-native
species
In this study we have found several non-native
insect species that may potentially disrupt key
ecological processes occurring within the City
of Melbourne urban ecosystems. For example,
the non-native Argentine ant Linepithema humile
was rst recorded in the City of Melbourne in
1962 and was also found in our targeted survey.
A strong body of evidence suggests that this
aggressive invasive species is capable of displacing
native ant species, and is doing so breaking ant-
mediated seed dispersal interactions. Future
long-term monitoring could also focus on better
understanding the distribution of the diamondback
moth Plutella xylostella, a species rst recorded in
Melbourne in October 2014. This moth is amongst
the most economically signicant pest of brassica
crops both in Australia and internationally.
Monitoring benecial species
We believe that the long-term monitoring of key
herbivores, predators, parasitoids, pollinators and
seed dispersers in both public and private green
spaces is a critical steps towards fully elucidating
the network of interactions sustaining ecological
processes in the City of Melbourne urban
ecosystems.
Ideally, this long-term monitoring scheme would
include protocols to recruit and train citizen
scientists. By doing so, the City of Melbourne
could further strengthen the research component
of their citizen science program whilst generating
essential evidence to guide their future green space
management strategies.
107
Recommendation 3: Conduct further targeted
insect surveys
Our study was aimed at elucidating the occurrence
and distribution of insects within the City of
Melbourne in a wide range of green spaces and
habitat types. Yet, due to the complex nature of
insect biodiversity, it is unlikely that a single study
could capture this diversity completely. Our team
is in the ongoing process of sorting and identifying
a substantial amount of insect material that will
be presented in a report in June 2016. Even with
this larger dataset we still believe there are many
knowledge gaps that could be addressed by
conducting further targeted insect surveys.
Our ndings indicate for example that an insect
survey specically targeted at beetles, including
bark and ground-dwelling species, in Fitzroy-
Treasury Gardens, Princes Park, Royal Park
and Westgate Park could lead to a much more
complete understanding of beetle biodiversity in
the City of Melbourne’s public green spaces. Also,
surveys targeting butteries and moths in Carlton
Gardens, Princes Park and Westgate Park could
greatly improve our understanding of Lepidoptera
biodiversity in the municipality. Collecting methods
such as Malaise traps and Berlese extraction
should also be considered in future targeted insects
surveys.
Recommendation 4: Promote community
engagement around insect biodiversity
The present and planned research outcomes of
the Little Things that Run the City project include:
two formal reports; a series of scientic papers; a
curated insect photographic collection (which has
been made accessible to the public through the
online sites BowerBird and Flickr); a geographic
information system (GIS) layer of the municipality’s
insect biodiversity; and an illustrated children’s
eBook/ book on the insects that live in the City of
Melbourne. The City of Melbourne can draw upon
this suite of resources to promote the community’s
interest in insect biodiversity.
The second Melbourne BioBlitz, to occur in the
summer of 2016, will be an excellent opportunity
to share the preliminary ndings from the Little
Things That Run the City project and to engage
the community with conservation-oriented insect
108
research. Aside from promoting the results of this
particular project, we believe that the Little Things
that Run the City research can be a springboard
for conversations with other parties, including, for
example, private land owners, about how we can
all help to support greater insect biodiversity in
urban environments. The City of Melbourne is now
well-positioned to ‘say a word on behalf of these
little things that run the world’.
109
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119
Appendix 1
Species data
Table A2.1 Insects species documented in the City of Melbourne arranged by order and family.
Observations legend
Data sources: Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), Melbourne BioBlitz (BB) and The Little Things that Run the City insect survey (TLT).
Urban green spaces: Argyle Square (AS), Carlton Gardens South (CGS), Canning/Neill Street Reserve (CNR), Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens (FTG),
Grasslands Installation (GI), Lincoln Square (LS), Princes Park (PP), Royal Park (RP), State Library of Victoria (SLV), Westgate Park (WP) and
Women’s Peace Garden (WPG).
Habitat types: Tree (T), mid-storey (MS), grassland (G) and lawn (L).
Shaded rows indicate morphospecies in our reference collection that are pending species level identication.
Photographic records are indicated with the superscripted code pho.
120
Order Family Species First record Last record Observations
Blattodea
Blattidae
Neostylopyga rhombifolia
- - ALA: CoM
Pl