Landscape Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 1383–1394

A reverse keystone species affects the landscape distribution of woodland avifauna: a case study using the Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala) and other Australian birds

  • Rebecca M. Montague-Drake
  • David B. Lindenmayer
  • Ross B. Cunningham
  • John A. Stein
Research Article

Abstract

We explored the effects of a purported ‘reverse keystone species’, the Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala) using a long-term, large-scale dataset. Specifically, we identify whether this aggressive bird affects the landscape distribution patterns of other avifauna, by displacing them into, or restricting their distribution to, less productive areas, and in so doing, adheres to ‘isoleg theory’. We sought to determine the effect of abundance of the Noisy Miner on the abundance of other birds (individual species and groups), and determine whether that effect was consistent with varying site productivity, using a negative binomial distribution with a logarithmic link function, and an offset variable to account for variations in search effort. Relationships between abundance of Noisy Miners and habitat variables were examined using a Poisson distribution with a logarithmic link function scaled for extra-variation (quasi-Poisson regression). We demonstrate that when Noisy Miner abundance is low, many small passerine species are more abundant on high productivity sites. However, as Noisy Miner abundance increases, small passerine abundance decreases, with this decrease most apparent on productive sites. The same patterns were not evident for birds considered ‘non-competitors’ of the Noisy Miner. We identify that both site productivity and vegetation structure influence the abundance of the Noisy Miner. We reveal that the species increasingly tolerates ‘less desirable’ habitat attributes with increasing site productivity. The preference of the Noisy Miner for productive areas is likely to have deleterious impacts on the long-term survival and reproductive success of other Australian woodland bird species, many of which have already undergone severe declines.

Keywords

Reverse keystone species Isoleg theory Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala Temperate woodlands Conservation management Woodland avifauna 

Supplementary material

10980_2011_9665_MOESM1_ESM.doc (121 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 121 kb)

References

  1. Abramsky Z, Rosenzweig ML (1984) Tilman’s predicted productivity-diversity relationship shown by desert rodents. Nature 309:150–151PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bach C, Hazlett B, Rittschof D (1976) Effects of interspecific competition on fitness of hermit crab Clibanarius tricolor. Ecology 57:579–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrett GW, Silcocks AF, Cunningham R, Oliver DL, Weston MA, Baker J (2007) Comparison of atlas data to determine the conservation status of bird species in New South Wales, with an emphasis on woodland-dependent species. Aust Zool 34:37–77Google Scholar
  4. Bengtsson J (1989) Interspecific competition increases local extinction rate in a metapopulation system. Nature 340:713–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braithwaite LW, Turner J, Kelly J (1984) Studies on the arboreal marsupial fauna of eucalypt forests being harvested for woodpulp at Eden, N.S.W. III. Relationship between the fauna densities, eucalypt occurrence and foliage nutrients, and soil parent materials. Aust Wildl Res 11:41–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Braithwaite LW, Austin MP, Clayton M, Turner J, Nicholls AO (1989) On predicting the presence of birds in birds in Eucalyptus forest. Biol Conserv 50:33–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer-Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Clarke MF, Oldland JM (2007) Penetration of remnant edges by noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala) and implications for habitat restoration. Wildl Res 34:253–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cunningham RB, Lindenmayer DB, Nix HA, Lindenmayer BD (1999) Quantifying observer heterogeneity in bird counts. Aust J Ecol 24:270–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Currie DJ (1991) Energy and large-scale patterns of animal- and plant-species richness. Am Nat 137:27–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dejean A, Le Breton J, Suzzoni J, Orivel J, Saux-Moreau C (2005) Influence of interspecific competition on the recruitment behavior and liquid food transport in the tramp ant species Pheidole megacephala. Naturwissenschaften 92:324–327PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dow DD (1977) Indiscriminate interspecific aggression leading to almost sole occupancy of space by a single species of bird. Emu 77:115–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB (2002) The conservation value of paddock trees for birds in a variegated landscape in southern New South Wales. 1. Species composition and site occupancy patterns. Biodivers Conserv 11:807–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ford HA (1979) Interspecific competition in Australian honeyeaters—depletion of common resources. Aust J Ecol 4:145–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Garrott RA, White PJ, Vanderbilt White CA (1993) Overabundance: an issue for conservation biologists? Conserv Biol 7:946–949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grey MJ, Clarke MF, Loyn RH (1997) Initial changes in the avian communities of remnant eucalypt woodlands following a reduction in the abundance of noisy miners, Manorina melanocephala. Wildl Res 24:631–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hastings RA, Beattie AJ (2006) Stop the bullying in the corridors: can including shrubs make your revegetation more Noisy Miner free? Ecol Manag Rest 7:105–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Howes AL, Maron M (2009) Interspecific competition and conservation management of continuous subtropical woodlands. Wildl Res 36:617–626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kath J, Maron M, Dunn PK (2009) Interspecific competition and small bird diversity in an urbanizing landscape. Landsc Urban Planning 92:72–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Keith DA (2004) Ocean shores to desert dunes; the native vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT. New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment and Climate Change, HurstvilleGoogle Scholar
  21. Lindenmayer DB, Crane M, Michael D (2005) Woodlands: a disappearing landscape, 1st edn. CSIRO Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  22. Lindenmayer DB, Knight EJ, Crane MJ, Montague-Drake R, Michael DR, MacGregor CI (2010) What makes an effective restoration planting for woodland birds? Biol Conserv 143:289–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Loyn RH (1987) Effects of patch area and habitat on bird abundances, species numbers and tree health in fragmented Victorian forests. In: Saunders DA, Arnold GW, Burbidge AA, Hopkins JM (eds) Nature conservation: the role of remnants of native vegetation. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, pp 65–77Google Scholar
  24. Mac Nally R, Timewell CAR (2005) Resource availability controls bird-assemblage composition through interspecific aggression. Auk 122:1097–1111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Major R, Christie F, Gowing G (2001) Influence of remnant and landscape attributes on Australian woodland bird communities. Biol Conserv 102:47–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Maron M (2007) Threshold effect of eucalypt density on an aggressive avian competitor. Biol Conserv 136:100–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Maron M (2009) Nesting, foraging and aggression of Noisy Miners relative to road edges in an extensive Queensland forest. Emu 109:75–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Maron M, Kennedy S (2007) Roads, fire and aggressive competitors: determinants of bird distribution in subtropical production forests. For Ecol Manag 240:24–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Martin TG, McIntyre S, Catterall CP, Possingham HP (2006) Is landscape context important for riparian conservation? Birds in grassy woodland. Biol Conserv 127:201–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Montague-Drake RM, Lindenmayer DB, Cunningham RB (2009) Factors affecting site occupancy by woodland bird species of conservation concern. Biol Conserv 142:2896–2903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Oldland JM, Taylor RS, Clarke MF (2009) Habitat preferences of the noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala)—a propensity for prime real estate? Aust Ecol 34:306–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Parsons H, Major RE, French K (2006) Species interactions and habitat associations of birds inhabiting urban areas of Sydney, Australia. Aust Ecol 31:217–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Piper SD, Catterall CP (2003) A particular case and a general pattern: hyperaggressive behaviour by one species may mediate avifaunal decreases in fragmented Australian forests. Oikos 101:602–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pyke GH, Recher HF (1983) Censusing Australian birds: a summary of procedures and a scheme for the standardization of data presentation and storage. In: Davies SJ (ed) Methods of censusing birds in Australia. Department of Conservation and Environment, Perth, pp 55–63Google Scholar
  35. Recher HF, Majer JD, Ganesh S (1996) Eucalypts, arthropods and birds: on the relation between foliar nutrients and species richness. For Ecol Manag 85:177–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Simberloff D (1998) Flagships, umbrellas, and keystones: is single-species management passé in the landscape era? Biol Conserv 83:247–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Soderquist TR, Mac Nally R (2000) The conservation value of mesic gullies in dry forest landscapes: mammal populations in the box-ironbark ecosystem of southern Australia. Biol Conserv 93:281–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Taylor RS, Oldland JM, Clarke MF (2008) Edge geometry influences patch-level habitat use by an edge specialist in south-eastern Australia. Landscape Ecol 23:377–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wardell Johnson G, Stone C, Recher H., Lynch AJJ (2006) Bell Miner associated dieback (BMAD) independent scientific literature review: a review of eucalypt dieback associated with Bell Miner habitat in north-eastern New South Wales, Australia. DEC NSW Occasional Paper DEC 2006/116, Hurstville, NSWGoogle Scholar
  40. Wardell JohnsonG, Stone C, Recher H, Lynch AJJ (2005) A review of eucalypt dieback associated with bell miner habitat in south-eastern Australia. Aust For 68:229–230Google Scholar
  41. Wilson J, Bennett AF (1999) Patchiness of a floral resource: flowering of red ironbark Eucalyptus tricarpa in a box and ironbark forest. Vic Nat 116:48–53Google Scholar
  42. Wootton JT (1987) Interspecific competition between introduced house finch populations and two associated passerine species. Oecologia 71:325–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca M. Montague-Drake
    • 1
  • David B. Lindenmayer
    • 1
  • Ross B. Cunningham
    • 1
  • John A. Stein
    • 1
  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations