Re-forestation restores native dominance in an island beetle fauna.
Native re-forestation is a widely used restoration tool, typically undertaken with the expectation that planting native trees will initiate succession processes (including the re-establishment of native fauna) that will eventually return the ecosystem to a native-dominated state. Invertebrate groups can be used to assess restoration progress, as their life history traits enable them to respond more rapidly to environmental change than many other organisms. In this study, we assessed beetle responses to re-forestation. Using two trapping methods (flight intercept traps and pitfall traps), we compared beetle assemblages in exotic pasture (pre-restoration state), <10-year-old planted native forest (restoration intervention) and approximately 40-year-old unmanaged regenerating native forest (reference state). Analysis of the flight intercept-trapped beetles suggests that re-forestation has initiated a transition from an exotic-dominated pasture fauna toward a native-dominated fauna: in planted forests, 75% of all flight-intercept-trapped beetles were native (compared with 22% in pasture and 87% in unmanaged forest). Flight intercept-trapped beetles also had higher native diversity and abundance in both forest types than in pasture. Pitfall-trapped beetle species were predominantly native in both forest types, but there were few statistically significant differences between the forests and pasture in the pit-fall trap data set. Both trapping methods detected significant compositional differences between the beetle assemblages in planted forest and unmanaged forest. Replanting native forest has increased native beetle diversity, abundance, and dominance (compared with the pre-restoration state), but convergence with the unmanaged reference forest has not yet been achieved.