Making the matrix matter: challenges in Australian grazing landscapes Article Received: 09 April 2003 Revised: 11 November 2003 Accepted: 11 November 2003 DOI:
10.1007/s10531-004-3916-5 Cite this article as: Fischer, J., Fazey, I., Briese, R. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2005) 14: 561. doi:10.1007/s10531-004-3916-5 Abstract
Many ecological theories are based on the concept of patches. Patches are a useful starting point for conservation efforts, but a focus on patches alone will not always achieve desired conservation outcomes. Conservation strategies in the grazing landscapes of southeastern Australia suggest that large patches of trees are widely regarded as ‘habitat’ while other forms of habitat are largely ignored. We provide data on birds and reptiles from the Nanangroe grazing landscape that illustrate the potential habitat value of areas located between large patches of trees – that is, the matrix. Despite evidence on its potential value, present conservation strategies rarely consider the matrix. Possible reasons for this bias relate to the economics of farming and the history of land use, the current environmental law framework, and also the reluctance of ecologists to study the matrix. More scientific evidence on the role of the matrix will be crucial if conservation strategies are to consider not only patches, but entire landscapes. However, for science to be relevant to land management, there is a need for new research approaches. First, an increased consideration of environmental policy and law will increase the likelihood of scientific findings being adopted by policy makers. Second, at an applied level, more practical on-ground research into farming practices and clearer communication are necessary to achieve more sustainable matrix management in Australian grazing landscapes.
Keywords Australia Biodiversity conservation Birds Matrix management Reptiles References Antrop, M. 2001 The language of landscape ecologists and planners – a comparative content analysis of concepts used in landscape ecology Landscape and Urban Planning 55 163 173 CrossRef Google Scholar Barrett, G.W., Ford, H.A., Recher, H.F. 1994 Conservation of woodland birds in a fragmented rural landscape Pacific Conservation Biology 1 245 256 Google Scholar Bates, G. 2002Environmental Law in Australia Reed International Books London Google Scholar Beier, P., Noss, R.F. 1998 Do habitat corridors provide connectivity? Conservation Biology 12 1241 1252 CrossRef Google Scholar Bennett, A.F. 1998Linkages in the Landscape: The Role of Corridors and Connectivity in Wildlife Conservation IUCN Gland, Switzerland Google Scholar
Bennett A.F., Kimber S., Ryan P. 2000. Revegetation and Wildlife. Research Report 2/00. Bushcare National Projects Research and Development Program. Environment Australia, Canberra, Australia.
Blab, J., Vogel, H. 1996Amphibien und Reptilien erkennen und schuetzen: Alle mitteleuropaeischen Arten BLV Verlagsgesellschaft MunichGermany Google Scholar Burgman, M.A., Lindenmayer, D.B. 1998Conservation Biology for the Australian Environment Surrey Beatty & Sons Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia Google Scholar Cunningham, R.B., Lindenmayer, D.B., Nix, H.A., Lindenmayer, B.D. 1999 Quantifying observer heterogeneity in bird counts Australian Journal of Ecology 24 270 277 CrossRef Google Scholar Daily, G.C. 1999 Developing a scientific basis for managing Earth’s life support systems Conservation Ecology 3 14 Google Scholar Daily, G.C. 2001 Ecological forecasts Nature 411 245 CrossRef PubMed Google Scholar Davidson, R.L. 1995 Farmers as conservators of a sustainable production base Bradstock, R.A. Auld, T.D. Keith, D.A. Kingsford, R.T. Lunney, D. Sivertsen, D.P. eds. Conserving Biodiversity: Threats and Solutions Surrey Beatty and Sons Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia 43 54 Google Scholar Department of Land and Water Conservation 1998Native Vegetation Conservation Act Factsheet No. 4: Property Agreements. NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation Sydney, Australia Google Scholar Department of Land and Water Conservation 1999Guidelines for clearing vegetation under the Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation ParramattaAustralia Google Scholar Diamond, J.M. 1975 The island dilemma: lessons of modern biogeographic studies for the design of natural reserves Biological Conservation 7 129 145 CrossRef Google Scholar Fenton, J. 1997 A primary producer’s perspective on nature conservation Hale, P. Lamb, D. eds. Conservation Outside Nature Reserves University of Queensland BrisbaneAustralia 3 9 Google Scholar Fernández-Juricic, E. 2000 Avifaunal use of wooded streets in an urban landscape Conservation Biology 14 513 521 CrossRef Google Scholar Ferrier, D., Lyster, R., Pearson, L., Lipman, Z. 1999The Environmental Law Handbook Redfern Legal Publishing Sydney, Australia Google Scholar Fischer, J., Lindenmayer, D.B. 2002a Small patches can be valuable for biodiversity conservation: two case studies on birds in southeastern Australia Biological Conservation 106 129 136 CrossRef Google Scholar Fischer, J., Lindenmayer, D.B. 2002b The conservation value of paddock trees for birds in a variegated landscape in southern New South Wales. 1. Species composition and site occupancy patterns Biodiversity and Conservation 11 807 832 CrossRef Google Scholar Fischer, J., Lindenmayer, D.B. 2002c The conservation value of paddock trees for birds in a variegated landscape in southern New South Wales. 2. Paddock trees as stepping stones Biodiversity and Conservation 11 833 849 CrossRef Google Scholar Franklin, J.F. 1993 Preserving biodiversity: species, ecosystems, or landscapes? Ecological Applications 3 202 205 Google Scholar Gascon, C., Lovejoy, T.E. 1998 Ecological impacts of forest fragmentation in central Amazonia Ecology 101 273 280 Google Scholar Gascon, C., Lovejoy, T.E., Bierregaard, R.O.J., Malcolm, J.R., Stouffer, P.C., Vasconcelos, H.L., et al. 1999 Matrix habitat and species richness in tropical forest remnants Biological Conservation 91 223 229 CrossRef Google Scholar Gibbons, P., Boak, M. 2002 The value of paddock trees for regional conservation in an agricultural landscape Ecological Management and Restoration 3 205 210 CrossRef Google Scholar Glanznig, A. 1995Native vegetation clearancehabitat loss and biodiversity decline Department of the EnvironmentSport and Territories CanberraAustralia Google Scholar
Glanznig A., Kennedy M. 2000. From words to action: addressing biodiversity loss, land degradation and native vegetation clearance in the 1990s – the Australian experience. http://www.nccnsw.org.au/member/cbn/projects/Policy_and_Law/vegman.html, visited April 2001.
Grant, B.W., Tucker, A.D., Lovich, J.E., Mills, A.M., Dixon, P.M., Gibbons, J.W. 1991 The use of coverboards in estimating patterns of reptile and amphibians biodiversity McCullough, D.R. Barrett, R.H. eds. Wildlife 2001: Populations. Elsevier Applied Science London 379 403 Google Scholar Haila, Y. 2002 A conceptual genealogy of fragmentation research: from island biogeography to landscape ecology Ecological Applications 12 321 334 Google Scholar Hamer, K.C., Hill, J.K., Benedick, S., Mustaffa, N., Sherratt, T.N., Maryati, M., et al. 2003 Ecology of butterflies in natural and selectively logged forests of northern Borneo: the importance of habitat heterogeneity Journal of Applied Ecology 40 150 162 CrossRef Google Scholar Hels, T., Buchwald, E. 2001 The effect of road kills on amphibian populations Biological Conservation 99 331 340 CrossRef Google Scholar Higgs, A.J., Usher, M.B. 1980 Should nature reserves be large or small? Nature 285 568 569 CrossRef Google Scholar Hobbs, R.J., Saunders, D.A., Arnold, G.W. 1993 Integrated landscape ecology: a Western Australian perspective Biological Conservation 64 231 238 CrossRef Google Scholar Horner-Devine, M.C., Daily, G.C., Ehrlich, P.R., Boggs, C.L. 2003 Countryside biogeography of tropical butterflies Conservation Biology 17 168 177 CrossRef Google Scholar Hughes, J.B., Daily, G.C., Ehrlich, P.R. 2002 Conservation of tropical forest birds in countryside habitats Ecology Letters 5 121 129 CrossRef Google Scholar Ison, R.L. Russell, D.B. eds. 2000Agricultural Extension and Rural Development: Breaking Out of Traditions Cambridge University Press CambridgeUK Google Scholar Jackson, J.B.C., Kirby, M.X., Berger, W.H., Bjorndal, K.A., Botsford, L.W., Bourque, B.J., et al. 2001 Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems Science 293 629 638 CrossRef PubMed Google Scholar Joyal, L.A., McCollough, M., Hunter, M.L. 2001 Landscape ecology approaches to wetland species conservation: a case study of two turtle species in southern Maine Conservation Biology 15 1755 1762 CrossRef Google Scholar King, G. 1995 The contribution of farm organizations to wildlife conservation and management of private land Bennett, A. Backhouse, G. Clark, T. eds. People and Nature Conservation. Surrey Beatty and Sons Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia 201 203 Google Scholar Kitchener, D.J. 1982 Predictors of vertebrate species richness in nature reserves in the Western Australian Wheatbelt Australian Wildlife Research 9 1 7 Google Scholar Laurance, W.F. 1991 Ecological correlates of extinction proneness in Australian tropical rain forest mammals Conservation Biology 5 79 89 Google Scholar Laurance, W.F. 1994 Rainforest fragmentation and the structure of small mammal communities in tropical Queensland Biological Conservation 69 23 32 CrossRef Google Scholar Laurance, W.F., Lovejoy, T.E., Vasconcelos, H.L., Bruna, E.M., Didham, R.K., Stouffer, P.C., et al. 2002 Ecosystem decay of Amazonian forest fragments: a 22-year investigation Conservation Biology 16 605 618 CrossRef Google Scholar Lemckert, F. 1998 A survey for threatened herpetofauna of the south-west slopes of New South Wales Australian Zoologist 30 492 500 Google Scholar Lindenmayer, D.B. 1994 Wildlife corridor mitigation of logging impacts on fauna in wood-production forests in south-eastern Australia: a review Wildlife Research 21 323 340 Google Scholar Lindenmayer, D.B. 1998The design of wildlife corridors in wood production forests NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service HurstvilleNew South Wales, Australia Google Scholar Lindenmayer, D.B., Franklin, J. 2002Conserving Forest Biodiversity Island Press CoveloAustralia Google Scholar Lindenmayer, D.B., Cunningham, R.B., MacGregor, C., Tribolet, C., Donnelly, C.F. 2001 A prospective longitudinal study of landscape matrix effects on fauna in woodland remnants. I. Experimental design and baseline data. Biological Conservation 101 157 169 CrossRef Google Scholar Lindenmayer, D.B., McIntyre, S., Fischer, J. 2003 Birds in eucalypt and pine forests: landscape alteration and its implications for research models of faunal habitat use Biological Conservation 110 45 53 CrossRef Google Scholar Luck, G.W., Daily, G.C. 2003 Tropical countryside bird assemblages: richness, composition, and foraging differ by landscape context Ecological Applications 13 235 247 Google Scholar Lumsden, L.F., Bennett, A.F., Silins, J.E. 2002 Location of roosts of the lesser long-eared bat Nyctophilus geoffroyi and Gould’s wattled bat Chalinolobus gouldii in a fragmented landscape in south-eastern Australia Biological Conservation 106 237 249 CrossRef Google Scholar MacArthur, R.H., Wilson, E.O. 1967The Theory of Island Biogeography Princeton University Press Princeton, New Jersey Google Scholar Margules, C.R., Pressey, R.L. 2000 Systematic conservation planning Nature 405 243 253 CrossRef PubMed Google Scholar McGarigal, K., McComb, W.C. 1995 Relationships between landscape structure and breeding birds in the Oregon coast range Ecological Monographs 65 235 260 Google Scholar McIntyre, S., Barrett, G.W. 1992 Habitat variegation, an alternative to fragmentation Conservation Biology 6 146 147 CrossRef Google Scholar McIntyre, S., Hobbs, R. 1999 A framework for conceptualizing human effects on landscapes and its relevance to management and research models Conservation Biology 13 1282 1292 CrossRef Google Scholar Milne, B. 1995 Broadening the basis for enhancing biodiversity – a farmer’s perspective Bennett, A. Backhouse, G. Clark, T. eds. People and Nature Conservation. Surrey Beatty and Sons Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia 204 208 Google Scholar Morton, S.R., Stafford Smith, D.M., Friedel, M.H., Griffin, G.F., Pickup, G. 1995 The stewardship of arid Australia: ecology and landscape management Journal of Environmental Management 43 195 217 CrossRef Google Scholar Noss, R.F. 1983 A regional landscape approach to maintain diversity Bioscience 33 700 706 Google Scholar Nupp, T.E., Swihart, R.K. 2000 Landscape-level correlates of small-mammal assemblages in forest fragments of farmland Journal of Mammalogy 81 512 526 CrossRef Google Scholar Orr, D.W. 2002 Four challenges of sustainability Conservation Biology 16 1457 1460 CrossRef Google Scholar Palomares, F., Delibes, M., Ferreras, P., Fedriani, J.M., Calazada, J., Revilla, E. 2000 Iberian lynx in a fragmented landscape: predispersal, dispersal, and postdispersal habitats Conservation Biology 14 809 818 CrossRef Google Scholar Paton, D.C. 2000 Disruption of bird–plant pollination systems in southern Australia Conservation Biology 14 1232 1234 CrossRef Google Scholar Ricketts, T.H., Daily, G.C., Ehrlich, P.R., Fay, J.P. 2001 Countryside biogeography of moths in a fragmented landscape: biodiversity in native and agricultural habitats Conservation Biology 15 378 388 CrossRef Google Scholar Rodrigues, A.S.L., Gaston, K.J. 2001 How large do reserve networks need to be? Ecology Letters 4 602 609 CrossRef Google Scholar Rosenberg, D.K., Noon, B.R., Meslow, E.C. 1997 Biological corridors: formfunction, and efficacy Bioscience 47 677 687 Google Scholar Saunders, D.A. 1994 Can we integrate nature conservation with agricultural production? Landscape and Urban Planning 28 55 62 CrossRef Google Scholar Saunders, D.A., de Rebeira, C.P. 1991 Values of corridors to avian populations in a fragmented landscape Saunders, D.A. Hobbs, R.J. eds. Nature Conservation 2: The Role of Corridors Surrey Beatty and Sons Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia 221 240 Google Scholar Saunders, D.A. Arnold, G.W. Burbidge, A.A. Hopkins, A.J.M. eds. 1987Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation Surrey Beatty and Sons Chipping Norton, New South Wales, Australia Google Scholar Saunders, D.A., Smith, G.T., Ingram, J.A., Forrester, R.I. 2003 Changes in a remnant of salmon gum Eucalyptus salmonophloia and York gum E. loxophleba woodland1978 to 1997. Implications for woodland conservation in the wheat-sheep regions of Australia Biological Conservation 110 245 256 CrossRef Google Scholar Semlitsch, R.D., Bodie, J.R. 1998 Are small, isolated wetlands expendable? Conservation Biology 12 1129 1133 CrossRef Google Scholar Senge, P.M. 2001The fifth disciplinethe art and practice of the learning organisation Random House Australia Sydney, Australia Google Scholar Simberloff, D.A., Farr, J.A., Cox, J., Mehlman, D.W. 1992 Movement corridors: conservation bargains or poor investments? Conservation Biology 6 493 504 CrossRef Google Scholar Spooner, P., Lunt, I., Robinson, W. 2002 Is fencing enough? The short-term effects of stock exclusion in remnant grassy woodlands in southern NSW Ecological Management and Restoration 3 117 126 CrossRef Google Scholar State of the Environment Advisory Council 1996State of the environment Australia 1996 CSIRO Publishing CollingwoodAustralia Google Scholar Stephens, D.W., Krebs, J.R. 1986Foraging Theory Princeton University Press Princeton, New Jersey Google Scholar Sundstrom, A. 2001 A licence to clear? An assessment of the effectiveness of clearing control laws in NSW National Parks Journal 45 10 11 Google Scholar Taylor, P.D., Fahrig, L., Henein, K., Merriam, G. 1993 Connectivity is a vital element of landscape structure Oikos 68 571 573 Google Scholar
Thompson D. 2001. Flying blind with native vegetation conservation? Australian Farm Journal October: 66–69.
Villard, M.-A., Trzcinski, M.K., Merriam, G. 1999 Fragmentation effects on forest birds: relative influence of woodland cover and configuration on landscape occupancy Conservation Biology 13 774 783 CrossRef Google Scholar Wiens, J.A. 1995 Landscape mosaics and ecological theory Hansson, L. Fahrig, L. Merriam, G. eds. Mosaic Landscapes and Ecological Processes. Chapman & Hall London 1 26 Google Scholar Wiens, J.A., Stenseth, N.C., Vanhorne, B., Ims, R.A. 1993 Ecological mechanisms and landscape ecology Oikos 66 369 380 Google Scholar Yates, C.J., Hobbs, R.J. 1997 Temperate eucalypt woodlands: a review of their status, processes threatening their persistence and techniques for restoration Australian Journal of Botany 45 949 973 CrossRef Google Scholar