Multi-scale associations between vegetation cover and woodland bird communities across a large agricultural region




Ikin, Karen
Barton, Philip S
Stirnemann, Ingrid
Stein, John
Michael, Damian
Crane, Mason
Okada, Sachiko
Lindenmayer, David B

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Public Library of Science


Improving biodiversity conservation in fragmented agricultural landscapes has become an important global issue. Vegetation at the patch and landscape-scale is important for species occupancy and diversity, yet few previous studies have explored multi-scale associations between vegetation and community assemblages. Here, we investigated how patch and landscape-scale vegetation cover structure woodland bird communities. We asked: (1) How is the bird community associated with the vegetation structure of woodland patches and the amount of vegetation cover in the surrounding landscape? (2) Do species of conservation concern respond to woodland vegetation structure and surrounding vegetation cover differently to other species in the community? And (3) Can the relationships between the bird community and the woodland vegetation structure and surrounding vegetation cover be explained by the ecological traits of the species comprising the bird community? We studied 103 woodland patches (0.5 - 53.8 ha) over two time periods across a large (6,800 km(2)) agricultural region in southeastern Australia. We found that both patch vegetation and surrounding woody vegetation cover were important for structuring the bird community, and that these relationships were consistent over time. In particular, the occurrence of mistletoe within the patches and high values of woody vegetation cover within 1,000 ha and 10,000 ha were important, especially for bird species of conservation concern. We found that the majority of these species displayed similar, positive responses to patch and landscape vegetation attributes. We also found that these relationships were related to the foraging and nesting traits of the bird community. Our findings suggest that management strategies to increase both remnant vegetation quality and the cover of surrounding woody vegetation in fragmented agricultural landscapes may lead to improved conservation of bird communities.



agriculture, animals, australia, biodiversity, ecology, forests, population dynamics, reproducibility of results, species specificity, time factors, birds, conservation of natural resources





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