, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 1045-1058
Date: 15 Mar 2007

Bird populations in native forest patches in south-eastern Australia: the roles of patch width, matrix type (age) and matrix use

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We surveyed birds in patches of native eucalypt forest and in surrounding exotic matrix (Radiata pine forests) in south-eastern Australia. Our objectives were: (1) to examine the influence of the width of native forest patches and the age of surrounding pine forests on bird occurrence in patches of native forest; and (2) to verify the relationship between the use of the surrounding pine matrix and bird species response to variation in width of patches of native forests. A total of 32 study sites (boundaries between eucalypt and pine forests) were surveyed. Birds were counted by the area search method within 0.5-ha quadrats. Data were analysed using generalised linear models. Wide patches of eucalypt forest supported higher species richness and greater numbers of birds, such as foliage searchers and nectarivores, than narrow patches. Matrix age also influenced the occurrence of some species in native patches. The abundance of species in wide and narrow patches of native forest was related to their use of the matrix. This was true for native forests surrounded by old but not by young pine forests. We suggest that management in wood production landscapes take into account both characteristics of native patches and the surrounding matrix. Negative impacts of fragmentation in managed landscapes might be reduced by promoting matrix types that are suitable for bird species.