The relative importance of habitat quality and landscape context for reptiles in regenerating landscapes

Bruton, Melissa J., Maron, Martine, Franklin, Craig E. and McAlpine, Clive A. (2016) The relative importance of habitat quality and landscape context for reptiles in regenerating landscapes. Biological Conservation, 193 37-47. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.11.004

Author Bruton, Melissa J.
Maron, Martine
Franklin, Craig E.
McAlpine, Clive A.
Title The relative importance of habitat quality and landscape context for reptiles in regenerating landscapes
Journal name Biological Conservation   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0006-3207
Publication date 2016-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.11.004
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 193
Start page 37
End page 47
Total pages 11
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
2309 Nature and Landscape Conservation
Abstract Restoration activities are limited by funding and logistics. To optimise restoration efforts, we need to evaluate the effects of management actions on wildlife populations. In general, site-scale habitat quality has a stronger influence on habitat use by fauna than the landscape context. However, this is yet to be empirically tested for reptiles. In this study, we used model averaging and hierarchical partitioning to compare the relative importance of site-scale habitat quality and landscape context for reptile communities and species in a regenerating woodland landscape in semi-arid Queensland, Australia. Reptiles were surveyed at 55 sites. Habitat quality was assessed using relevant variables based on published habitat-associations for each species or group. Landscape context was assessed using binary, mosaic and continuous descriptions of vegetation cover within 250 m of the survey sites. We found that, in comparison to site-scale habitat quality, the composition of the surrounding landscape had little influence on reptiles, despite testing three alternative approaches for describing landscape context. Nine out of eleven reptile species and groups responded to variation in habitat quality, whereas just one species responded to variation in landscape context. Species richness, diversity, and abundance were unaffected by landscape context, but were influenced by site-scale structural complexity and vegetation type. Our findings suggest that reptiles, in general, benefit from conservation and restoration activities that focus on improving site-scale habitat quality, with increasing the amount and connectivity of surrounding vegetation of lesser value. This study also highlights the importance of better understanding the drivers of reptile distributions and abundances in dryland landscapes.
Keyword Restoration
Landscape configuration
Resource use
Disturbed woodlands
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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