Nutrient subsidy indicators predict the presence of an avian mobile-link species

Buelow, Christina A., Baker, Ronald, Reside, April E., and Sheaves, Marcus (2018) Nutrient subsidy indicators predict the presence of an avian mobile-link species. Ecological Indicators, 89. pp. 507-515.

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Island ecosystems can be inordinately dependent on avian nutrient subsidies because of their isolation from external nutrient pools. We investigated relationships between several nutrient subsidy indicators and the presence of Torresian Imperial-Pigeon (TIP, Ducula spilorrhoa) breeding colonies in island forests of northeast Australia. The following nutrient subsidy indicators were measured in island forest soil and leaf samples: nutrient origin (δN15 and δC13); total carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) levels; and nutrient quality (C:N:P ratios). Random Forest models were used to determine the relative importance of nutrient subsidy indicators for classifying island forests as 'TIP colony present' or 'TIP colony absent'. Total P was the most important soil nutrient subsidy indicator, while δN15 was the most important leaf nutrient subsidy indicator. Furthermore, in both soil and leaves, δN15 enrichment and N and P levels increased as the probability of TIP colony presence increased. Measures of nutrient quality also implied plant growth rates were higher in island forests with increased likelihood of TIP colony presence. Torresian Imperial-Pigeons should be classified as an avian mobile-link species with an important role in island ecosystem functioning, encouraging further investigation of the direct and indirect effects associated with TIP nutrient subsidies. This research highlights the importance of understanding the local-scale connectivity processes that underpin the longer distance movements of inter-continental migrants for effective ecosystem management.

Item ID: 53670
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1470-160X
Keywords: Nutrient subsidy, Connectivity, Stable isotopes, Migration, Ecosystem function, Stoichiometry
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Copyright Information: © 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 6 of the following PhD thesis: Buelow, Christina Amy (2017) Integrated assessment of ecosystem connectivity and functioning: coastal forest avifauna of northeast Australia. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA), Birds Queensland, BirdLife Australia, Ecological Society of Australia (ESA)
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 07:49
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 60%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4199 Other environmental sciences > 419999 Other environmental sciences not elsewhere classified @ 40%
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