Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation are drivers of major declines in biodiversity and species extinctions. The actual causes of species population declines following habitat change are more difficult to discern and there is typically high covariation among the measures used to infer the causes of decline. The causes of decline may act directly on individual fitness and survival, or through disruption of population processes. We examined the relationships among configuration, extent and status of native vegetation and three commonly used indicators of individual body condition and chronic stress (haemoglobin level, haematocrit, residual body mass condition index) in 13 species of woodland-dependent birds in south-eastern Australia. We also examined two measures of changes to population processes (sex ratio and individual homozygosity) in ten species and alleic richness in five species. We found little support for relationships between site or landscape characteristics and individual or population response variables, notwithstanding that our simulations showed we had sufficient power to detect relatively small effects. We discuss possible causes of the absence of detectable habitat effects in this system and the implications for the usefulness of individual body condition and easily measured haematological indices as indicators of the response of avian populations to habitat change.
Amos, J. N., Balasubramaniam, S., Grootendorst, L., Harrisson, K., Lill, A., MAC NALLY, R., Pavlova, A., Radford, J. Q., Takeuchi, N., THOMSON, J., & Sunnucks, P. (2013). Little evidence that condition, stress indicators, sex ratio, or homozygosity are related to landscape or habitat attributes in declining woodland birds. Journal of Avian Biology, 44, 45-54. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-048X.2012.05746.x