Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 547–561 | Cite as

Spatial dynamics of coastal forest bird assemblages: the influence of landscape context, forest type, and structural connectivity

  • Christina A. BuelowEmail author
  • Ronald Baker
  • April E. Reside
  • Marcus Sheaves
Research Article



Complex structural connectivity patterns can influence the distribution of animals in coastal landscapes, particularly those with relatively large home ranges, such as birds. To understand the nuanced nature of coastal forest avifauna, where there may be considerable overlap in assemblages of adjacent forest types, the concerted influence of regional landscape context and vegetative structural connectivity at multiple spatial scales warrants investigation.


This study determined whether species compositions of coastal forest bird assemblages differ with regional landscape context or with forest type, and if this is influenced by structural connectivity patterns measured at multiple spatial scales.


Three replicate bird surveys were conducted in four coastal forest types at ten survey locations across two regional landscape contexts in northeast Australia. Structural connectivity patterns of 11 vegetation types were quantified at 3, 6, and 12 km spatial scales surrounding each survey location, and differences in bird species composition were evaluated using multivariate ordination analysis.


Bird assemblages differed between regional landscape contexts and most coastal forest types, although Melaleuca woodland bird assemblages were similar to those of eucalypt woodlands and rainforests. Structural connectivity was primarily correlated with differences in bird species composition between regional landscape contexts, and correlation depended on vegetation type and spatial scale.


Spatial scale, landscape context, and structural connectivity have a combined influence on bird species composition. This suggests that effective management of coastal landscapes requires a holistic strategy that considers the size, shape, and configuration of all vegetative components at multiple spatial scales.


Species composition Avifauna Structural connectivity Coastal forests Spatial scale Landscape context Keystone structure 



We thank the following for funding support: BirdLife Australia, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Birds Queensland, and Ecological Society of Australia.

Supplementary material

10980_2016_461_MOESM1_ESM.docx (368 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 367 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Estuary and Coastal Wetland Ecosystems Research Group (ATSIP Building 145), College of Science and EngineeringJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.TropWATER, Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem ResearchJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation ScienceThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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