Green Tongues into the Arid Zone: River Floodplains Extend the Distribution of Terrestrial Bird Species

Katherine Selwood, Rohan Clarke, Melodie McGeoch, Ralph MAC NALLY

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Floodplain and riparian ecosystems have cooler,
    wetter microclimatic conditions, higher water
    availability and greater vegetation biomass than
    adjacent terrestrial zones. Given these conditions,
    we investigated whether floodplain ecosystems allow
    terrestrial bird species to extend into more arid
    regions than they otherwise would be expected to
    occupy. We evaluated associations between aridity
    and the occurrence of 130 species using bird survey
    data from 2998 sites along the two major river corridors
    in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. We
    compared the effects of aridity on species occurrence
    in non-floodplain and floodplain ecosystems to test
    whether floodplains moderate the effect of aridity.
    Aridity had a negative effect on the occurrence of 58
    species (45%) in non-floodplain ecosystems, especially
    species dependent on forest and woodland
    habitats. Of these 58 species, the negative effects of
    aridity were moderated in floodplain ecosystems for
    22 (38%) species: 12 showed no association with aridity in floodplain ecosystems and the adverse effects
    of aridity on species occurrence were less pronounced
    in floodplain ecosystems compared to nonfloodplain
    ecosystems for ten species. Greater vegetation
    greenness indicated that floodplain vegetation
    was more productive than vegetation in non-floodplain
    ecosystems. Floodplain ecosystems allow
    many terrestrial species to occur in more arid regions
    than they otherwise would be expected to occupy.
    This may be due to higher vegetation productivity,
    cooler microclimates or connectivity of floodplain
    vegetation. Although floodplain and riparian
    ecosystems will become increasingly important for
    terrestrial species persistence as climate change increases
    drying in many parts of the world, many are
    also likely to be highly affected by reduced water
    availability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)745-756
    Number of pages12
    JournalEcosystems
    Volume20
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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    Birds
    tongue
    floodplains
    Ecosystems
    arid zones
    floodplain
    Rivers
    rivers
    birds
    dry environmental conditions
    aridity
    river
    ecosystems
    ecosystem
    coolers
    vegetation
    bird species
    distribution
    Climate change
    wet environmental conditions

    Cite this

    Selwood, Katherine ; Clarke, Rohan ; McGeoch, Melodie ; MAC NALLY, Ralph. / Green Tongues into the Arid Zone: River Floodplains Extend the Distribution of Terrestrial Bird Species. In: Ecosystems. 2017 ; Vol. 20. pp. 745-756.
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    abstract = "Floodplain and riparian ecosystems have cooler,wetter microclimatic conditions, higher wateravailability and greater vegetation biomass thanadjacent terrestrial zones. Given these conditions,we investigated whether floodplain ecosystems allowterrestrial bird species to extend into more aridregions than they otherwise would be expected tooccupy. We evaluated associations between aridityand the occurrence of 130 species using bird surveydata from 2998 sites along the two major river corridorsin the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. Wecompared the effects of aridity on species occurrencein non-floodplain and floodplain ecosystems to testwhether floodplains moderate the effect of aridity.Aridity had a negative effect on the occurrence of 58species (45{\%}) in non-floodplain ecosystems, especiallyspecies dependent on forest and woodlandhabitats. Of these 58 species, the negative effects ofaridity were moderated in floodplain ecosystems for22 (38{\%}) species: 12 showed no association with aridity in floodplain ecosystems and the adverse effectsof aridity on species occurrence were less pronouncedin floodplain ecosystems compared to nonfloodplainecosystems for ten species. Greater vegetationgreenness indicated that floodplain vegetationwas more productive than vegetation in non-floodplainecosystems. Floodplain ecosystems allowmany terrestrial species to occur in more arid regionsthan they otherwise would be expected to occupy.This may be due to higher vegetation productivity,cooler microclimates or connectivity of floodplainvegetation. Although floodplain and riparianecosystems will become increasingly important forterrestrial species persistence as climate change increasesdrying in many parts of the world, many arealso likely to be highly affected by reduced wateravailability.",
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    Green Tongues into the Arid Zone: River Floodplains Extend the Distribution of Terrestrial Bird Species. / Selwood, Katherine; Clarke, Rohan; McGeoch, Melodie; MAC NALLY, Ralph.

    In: Ecosystems, Vol. 20, 2017, p. 745-756.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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