Incidence of competitors and landscape structure as predictors of woodland-dependent birds

Robertson, Oliver, Maron, Martine, Buckley, Yvonne and McAlpine, Clive (2013) Incidence of competitors and landscape structure as predictors of woodland-dependent birds. Landscape Ecology, 28 10: 1975-1987. doi:10.1007/s10980-013-9934-5

Author Robertson, Oliver
Maron, Martine
Buckley, Yvonne
McAlpine, Clive
Title Incidence of competitors and landscape structure as predictors of woodland-dependent birds
Journal name Landscape Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0921-2973
Publication date 2013-12-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10980-013-9934-5
Volume 28
Issue 10
Start page 1975
End page 1987
Total pages 13
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Subject 2309 Nature and Landscape Conservation
2303 Ecology
3305 Geography, Planning and Development
Formatted abstract
Globally, modification of landscapes for agriculture has had a strong influence on the distribution and abundance of biota. In particular, woodland-dependent birds are under threat across agricultural landscapes in Britain, North America and Australia, with their decline and extirpation attributed to the loss and fragmentation of habitat. Other native species have become over-abundant in response to anthropogenic landscape change and have strong interactive effects on avian assemblage structure. In eastern Australia, the hyper-aggressive noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) often dominates woodlands in agricultural landscapes through interspecific competition, resulting in declines of species richness of woodland-dependent birds. We aimed to determine the relative influence and importance of interspecific competition, in situ habitat structure and landscape structure for woodland-dependent bird species at the landscape level. We recorded species-specific landscape incidence of woodland-dependent birds in 24 agricultural-woodland mosaics (25 km2) in southern Queensland, Australia. We selected extensively cleared landscapes (10-23 % woodland cover) where fragmentation effects are expected to be greatest. We applied generalised linear models and hierarchical partitioning to quantify the relative importance of the landscape-level incidence of the noisy miner, mistletoe abundance, shrub cover, woodland extent, woodland subdivision and land-use intensity for the incidence of 46 species of woodland birds at the landscape-scale. The landscape-level incidence of the noisy miner was the most important explanatory variable across the assemblage. Both in situ habitat structure and landscape structure were of secondary importance to interspecific aggression, although previous research suggests that the increasing incidence of the noisy miner in fragmented agricultural landscapes is itself a consequence of anthropogenic changes to landscape structure. Species' responses to fragmentation varied from positive to negative, but complex habitat structure had a consistently positive effect, suggesting in situ restoration of degraded habitats could be a conservation priority. Landscape wide conservation of woodland-dependent bird populations in agricultural landscapes may be more effective if direct management of noisy miner populations is employed, given the strong negative influence of this species on the incidence of woodland-dependent birds among landscapes.
Keyword Habitat fragmentation
Hierarchical partitioning
Interspecific competition
Model averaging
Noisy miner
Woodland birds
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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