Ridgefield (Australia)

The Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment was established in 2010 to explore the provision of ecosystem services by different plant species in the context of restoration and global change in the wheat belt of south-western Australia. The focus of the experiment lies on a number of ecosystem attributes and processes, including those likely to be valued as services by land managers as well as the broader public.

Ten different plant assemblage treatments are used in the plots. The treatments form a gradient of species richness, functional group richness, and structural complexity. Species were selected based on their nutrient acquisition traits and morphological traits such as growth form: trees, fabaceous shrubs, myrtaceous shrubs, and proteaceous shrubs. Bare plots are included to examine the changes that will occur in the absence of deliberate planting. The plots are blocked according to soil type, aspect, and soil moisture.
Two environmental changes will be manipulated experimentally at the site: N deposition and non-native weed cover. Half of each plot is subjected to N deposition, with weed removal (by herbicide application) nested in quarter plots within these halves. Weed removal was done until the end of 2015. Measurements will take place on, or in the area enclosed by, the 16 individuals within each quarter.
The species are arranged in a stratified random way in the plots, to maintain composition within each plot quarter. Shrubs and trees were planted on alternate rows c. 2 m apart, with 2.5 m between the individuals in the rows: 10 trees per line in each plot. The outer rows of a plot always have shrubs, apart from the bare and tree-only plots. The border trees/shrubs will be excluded from measurements.

The plots of the Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment and an example plot layout. Former land use: crops (CRPD) or sheep grazing (GRZD). Capital letters denote blocks; numbers denote the 10 different plant assemblage treatments.

Site characteristics

location Ridgefield
former land use crops (24 plots), sheep pasture (100 plots)
altitude 350 m
soil type
area 21 ha
no of plots 124
plot size 11 rip lines by 23 m: c. 21 m x 23 m
no of trees planted 11 660
planting date 14-16 August 2010
diversity variables species richness
functional diversity
structural complexity
diversity gradient 0, 1, 2, 4, 8 sp.
0, 1, 2, 3, 4 FD levels
0, 1, 2 growth forms
size species pool 8
species pool tree species: Eucalyptus loxophleba, E. astringens
shrub species: Acacia acuminata, A. microbotrya, Banksia sessilis, Callistemon phoeniceus, Calothamnus quadrifidus, Hakea lissocarpha
contact person Mike Perring, Richard Hobbs


In the first stages of the experiment, studies will focus on C sequestration, biotic resistance, nutrient cycling, soil erosion control, biodiversity maintenance, and pollination.

Extra information
Send an e-mail to the contact persons, visit the experiment's own website, or explore the publications:

  • Yeeles P, Lach L, Hobbs RJ, Van Wees M, Didham RK (2017) Woody plant richness does not influence invertebrate community reassembly trajectories in a tree diversity experiment. Ecology 98: 500-511 - doi: 10.1002/ecy.1662
  • Perring MP, Standish RJ, Hulvey KB, Lach L, Morald TK, Parsons R, Didham RK, Hobbs RJ (2012) The Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment: Can restoration of former agricultural land achieve multiple outcomes? Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 163: 14-27 - doi:10.1016/j.agee.2012.02.016

The Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment in 2012 and 2013
(Click on the pictures to see a larger version.)

The Ridgefield Experiment in spring 2016 (Bec Campbell) and in 2018 (R. Hobbs)