Habitat clearance generally produces fragmented landscapes. A major consequence is the creation of large amounts of new ‘edge habitat’, often of a kind not previously existing, such as abrupt forest- agricultural land interfaces. Much work from around the world suggests that proliferation of edge habitat seriously affects birds reliant on large forest blocks to persist, and the intrusion of edge specialists into areas they did not previously occupy. These processes often generate avifaunal gradients in which assemblages change from the interior to the edge. This effect is explored in the largest remnant block of box-ironbark forest of central Victoria, Australia (about 30,000 ha). Eight radially oriented survey lines were established around the periphery of the block. Along each survey line, five transects with long axes oriented parallel to the edge were positioned with midlines at 40 m, 160 m, 280 m and 400 m into the forest, and one transect 80 m into the agricultural land, yielding a total of 40 transects. Six identical transects were located deep within the forest (> 2 km). There was little evidence of a change in the avifauna from interior to edge, although mean richness was depressed in the edge habitats compared with forest interior transects. These results were essentially the same for ‘all species’ or ‘forest dependent’ species. Thus, there is little evidence for marked edge effects on the avifauna of these large forest blocks, although work in intermediate sized remnants (100-1000 ha) is needed to identify thresholds at which edge effects begin to be manifested.
Campi, M. J., & Mac Nally, R. (2001). Birds on edge: Avian assemblages along forest-agricultural boundaries of central Victoria, Australia. Animal Conservation, 4(2), 121-132. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1367943001001159