Time lags in provision of habitat resources through revegetation

Peter Vesk, Rachael Nolan, Jim THOMSON, Josh W. Dorrough, Ralph MAC NALLY

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

169 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Broadscale land use changes are occurring rapidly in rural landscapes worldwide, within which revegetation with native plant species to increase the area of suitable habitat is a key activity. Current models for planning revegetation are based solely on the spatial arrangement of new and remnant vegetation. Making wise decisions about revegetation requires projective models of ecological responses to revegetation, but there are few appropriate data. Substantial time lags are expected in the availability of many habitat resources because different resources are realised at different stages of vegetation maturation. Here we present results of surveys of 72 revegetation sites established over a range from 5 to more than 130 yr from the slopes and plains of central Victoria, Australia.We surveyed vegetation provision of habitat resources essential for many birds and arboreal and scansorial mammals (e.g. canopy, large boughs, tree hollows and fallen timber). Predictive models were developed for habitat resource provision as functions of time since planting, planting density and other covariates. Different habitat resources developed at different rates. While dense canopy and various forms of bark resources developed in about 10 yr, large boughs, tree hollows and fallen timber loads required at least 100 yr to develop. The development of these key habitat resources was delayed in revegetated sites with high stem densities. Habitat resources that are essential for many birds and arboreal and scansorial mammals have long time lags that models for planning offsets or landscape reconstruction should account for. Management has substantial effects: planting at high densities greatly reduces tree girth growth rates and delays the occurrence of large boughs, tree hollows and fallen timber by decades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-186
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume141
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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