Mulligan Flat - Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment Logo



Beetle on Flower

Flower Beetle on a milk thistle flower
Photo: Philip Barton





Carabid on Stick

A Carabid on stick
Photo: Philip Barton





Orb weaver spider

Orb Weaver Spider (Nephilidae)
Photo: Philip Barton





Purple Butterfly

A Common Grass-blue butterfly
Zizina labradus feeding on a Royal Bluebell Wahlenbergia gloriosa
Photo: Jenny Newport





Jewel Spider

Jewel SpiderAustracantha minax
Photo: Nicki Munro






Dragonflies (Odonata)
Photo: Nicki Munro





Pitfall trap near log

Pitfall trap near log
to collect invertebrates
Photo: Philip Barton


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Invertebrates constitute the majority of multi-cellular species on Earth, and have a critical role in the functioning of ecosystems. Despite their abundance, diversity and ecological importance, most studies of biodiversity focus on birds, large mammals and plants.

Invertebrates are included in this experiment because of:

Research Projects

Invertebrate research in the experiment has so far concentrated on arthropod assemblages, with a special focus on beetles. Beetles are an abundant and functionally diverse component of the fauna of grassy woodlands, and are an ideal insect group to show responses to the experimental treatments.


Beetles and Logs
Research published in Biological Conservation has shown that logs in box-gum grassy woodlands support highly diverse assemblages of native beetles. The research found that logs contributed to the diversity of beetles in two different ways by increasing species richness and variability of species across the landscape. Find out more:

Beetles and Eucalyptus Trees
Recently published research in Journal of Biogeography has shown that beetle assemblages under the two tree species, Yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and Blakely's red gum (E. blakelyi) had distinctive differences in diversity and composition. This can be exploited for conservation purposes to maximise biodiversity at landscape scales, but also to maintain heterogeneity in species richness, trophic function and biomass at fine spatial scales. Find out more:

Beetles and Kangaroo Grazing
The overabundance of vertebrate herbivores can be a significant barrier to ecological restoration due to their impact on grass biomass. The response of beetle assemblages were examined over a period of 18 months as part of the experimental treatment that manipulated kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) grazing levels using exclosure fences, and addition of coarse woody debris. Grazing had a significant negative effect and coarse woody debris volume had a positive effect on overall beetle abundance and species richness. For ecological restoration, exclosure fences and coarse woody debris can be used to manage the impacts of overabundant vertebrate herbivores. This will assist the recovery of the grass-layer, with benefits for insect diversity and their associated ecological functions.

Beetles morphology and Ecology
Morphological traits provide a functional link to many aspects of an organism’s ecology, but few studies have explored how morphological traits can complement phylogenetic information to extend our predictions of the ecology of diverse insect assemblages. In this study, we demonstrated that body length, 'robustness' and appendage length are significantly related to microhabitat use when comparing members of the same family. Find out more:


Ongoing research will focus on:



Mulligans Flat Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment Contact Details