Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

First Advisor

Adrianne Kinnear

Abstract

Conventional agricultural practices (tillage, extensive application of synthetic fertilisers and biocides) exert substantial disturbance on soil ecosystems, consequently causing severe land degradation through loss of soil organic matter. These practices also place significant pressure on the soil inhabitants. However, permaculture systems practice non-tillage and extensive mulching. These non-tillage practices reduce the amount of perturbation on the litter invertebrates and encourage their abundances. The aims of this study were to describe the above-ground mesofaunal communities in the mulch layer of selected urban permaculture systems in the Perth Metropolitan area. This included determining the faunal abundance and diversity. Four permaculture sites were selected within the Perth urban area. Sampling involved the mulch layer of the permaculture systems. Four random replicate samples of 10cm diameter of mulch were collected from each site. The time constraints and sorting efforts required allowed only one sampling occasion for each site. Results of this study revealed that Permaculture systems did encourage diverse above-ground mesofauna1 communities. Fauna1 abundance was significantly affected by mulch depth. The age of the systems as well as other local environmental conditions appeared to influence the mesofaunal diversity. Therefore, some site-specific distribution of faunal communities was evident.

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