Distribution and individual condition reveal a hierarchy of habitat suitability for an area-sensitive passerine

Maron, Martine, Goulding, William, Ellis, Rebecca D. and Mohd-Taib, Farah-Shafawati (2012) Distribution and individual condition reveal a hierarchy of habitat suitability for an area-sensitive passerine. Biodiversity and Conservation, 21 10: 2509-2523. doi:10.1007/s10531-012-0314-2

Author Maron, Martine
Goulding, William
Ellis, Rebecca D.
Mohd-Taib, Farah-Shafawati
Total Author Count Override 4
Title Distribution and individual condition reveal a hierarchy of habitat suitability for an area-sensitive passerine
Journal name Biodiversity and Conservation   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0960-3115
Publication date 2012-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10531-012-0314-2
Volume 21
Issue 10
Start page 2509
End page 2523
Total pages 15
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The identification of environmental factors linked to increased risk of local
extinction often relies on inference from patterns of distribution. Yet for declining populations, the assumption of population equilibrium that underlies species distribution models is violated. Measures such as individual condition can provide a more direct indication of extinction risk, and can start to be detected before declines commence. We compared distribution-based and condition-based approaches to identifying factors affecting habitat suitability for an area-sensitive passerine, the eastern yellow robin Eopsaltria australis, in eastern Australia. We compared patterns of individual condition between robins and several common, more mobile species (Meliphagid honeyeaters and yellow thornbills Acanthiza nana). Robin presence was not affected by landscape context, but robins avoided sites with a more grassy ground layer. However, robins inhabiting landscapes with less remnant woodland had higher ratios of heterophils to lymphocytes in peripheral blood, indicating higher long-term stress. No clear spatial patterns of condition were detected for the more mobile species. Our findings suggest a hierarchical model of habitat suitability, whereby robins avoid grassy sites, but where they do occur are in poorest condition when inhabiting less-vegetated landscapes. We predict greater rates of local extinction of robins from such landscapes. The use of indicators of individual condition, in addition to distribution data, can unveil otherwise cryptic factors as important influences on habitat quality. As habitat occupancy does not always reflect habitat quality, exploring patterns in condition indices can complement species distribution modelling, potentially revealing threats to persistence before population declines have  commenced.
Keyword Chronic stress
Conservation physiology
Habitat selection
Species distribution models
Body Condition
Conservation Physiology
Landscape Fragmentation
Species Distribution
Bird Assemblages
Forest Birds
Patch Size
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
Official 2013 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 8 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 15 Nov 2012, 15:59:49 EST by System User on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management