Determinants of bird assemblage composition in riparian vegetation on sugarcane farms in the Queensland Wet Tropics

Keir, Anita F., Pearson, Richard G., and Congdon, Robert A. (2015) Determinants of bird assemblage composition in riparian vegetation on sugarcane farms in the Queensland Wet Tropics. Pacific Conservation Biology, 21 (1). pp. 60-73.

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Abstract

Remnant habitat patches in agricultural landscapes can contribute substantially to wildlife conservation. Understanding the main habitat variables that influence wildlife is important if these remnants are to be appropriately managed. We investigated relationships between the bird assemblages and characteristics of remnant riparian forest at 27 sites among sugarcane fields in the Queensland Wet Tropics bioregion. Sites within the remnant riparian zone had distinctly different bird assemblages from those of the forest, but provided habitat for many forest and generalist species. Width of the riparian vegetation and distance from source forest were the most important factors in explaining the bird assemblages in these remnant ribbons of vegetation. Gradual changes in assemblage composition occurred with increasing distance from source forest, with species of rainforest and dense vegetation being replaced by species of more open habitats, although increasing distance was confounded by decreasing riparian width. Species richness increased with width of the riparian zone, with high richness at the wide sites due to a mixture of open-habitat species typical of narrower sites and rainforest species typical of sites within intact forest, as a result of the greater similarity in vegetation characteristics between wide sites and the forest proper. The results demonstrate the habitat value for birds of remnant riparian vegetation in an agricultural landscape, supporting edge and open vegetation species with even narrow widths, but requiring substantial width (>90 m) to support specialists of the closed forest, the dominant original vegetation of the area.

Item ID: 39438
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: agriculture, Australia, diversity, rainforest, riparian width
ISSN: 1038-2097
Funders: Sugar Research & Development Corporation
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2015 03:11
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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