Distinguishing area and habitat heterogeneity effects on species richness: Birds in Victorian buloke remnants

Ralph MAC NALLY, D.M. Watson

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    Resolving whether area per se or habitat heterogeneity has the greater influence in controlling species richness remains a controversial yet important question. Here we show that avian species richness of same-sized transects (1 ha) is independent of the remnant area (of buloke woodland) within which a transect is positioned. We also show that avifaunal similarity of pairs of transects randomly placed within the largest remnants (≥ 48 ha) is not consistently related to either proximity (i.e. being within the same remnant) nor to physiognomic characteristics of the transects. We believe that much of the controversy over area/habitat heterogeneity effects is probably related to scalar issues and propose a protocol by which some resolution of the question might be reached. The protocol involves 'zoom' sampling in which successively larger transect sizes are used, and measures of faunal richness and habitat heterogeneity are made at these different grains of resolution. One of our intentions is to stimulate discussion on how heterogeneity might be measured when grains increase from typical transect sizes (ca 1 ha) up to much larger grains (ca 128 ha).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-232
    Number of pages6
    JournalAustral Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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