Geometry of large woodland remnants and its influence on avifaunal distributions

W. Harwood, R. Mac Nally

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    17 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In fragmented landscapes, remnant vegetation almost always occurs as irregular shapes and frequently with peninsulas or lobes of habitat extending into the surrounding agricultural matrix. Historical time-series of many landscapes indicate that such lobes tend to be lost through time, making remnants more regularly shaped as more habitat is lost. Although the biogeographic peninsular effect suggests that the biodiversity value of lobes should be less than remnant interiors, R.T.T. Forman has suggested that lobes in fragmented, human-dominated landscapes may provide positive ecological functions. We considered the distribution and occurrence of birds in medium-sized (ca. 2000 ha) remnants of the box-ironbark forests of central Victoria, Australia. We compared transects placed in the interiors, along edges and in lobes, finding that in general woodland-dependent species occurred throughout lobes and edges in densities substantially greater than the interiors of the remnants (often ca. 2 km from edges). We conducted analyses that weighted speciesȁ9 predilections to occupy the centres of large woodland areas using independent data. We found that: (1) species favouring centres of large woodland areas (measured using independent data) were distributed evenly throughout our study remnants; and (2) species capable of occupying smaller remnants (≤80 ha) were more prevalent in lobes and along the straight edges of remnants. These results indicate that preservation of lobes is likely to be important for maintaining avian biodiversity in fragmented landscapes, and that the addition of lobes in reconstructing landscapes through revegetation may favour birds.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)401-416
    Number of pages16
    JournalLandscape Ecology
    Volume20
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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