Advertisement

Ecosystems

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 745–756 | Cite as

Green Tongues into the Arid Zone: River Floodplains Extend the Distribution of Terrestrial Bird Species

  • Katherine E. SelwoodEmail author
  • Rohan H. Clarke
  • Melodie. A. McGeoch
  • Ralph Mac Nally
Article

Abstract

Floodplain and riparian ecosystems have cooler, wetter microclimatic conditions, higher water availability and greater vegetation biomass than adjacent terrestrial zones. Given these conditions, we investigated whether floodplain ecosystems allow terrestrial bird species to extend into more arid regions than they otherwise would be expected to occupy. We evaluated associations between aridity and the occurrence of 130 species using bird survey data from 2998 sites along the two major river corridors in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. We compared the effects of aridity on species occurrence in non-floodplain and floodplain ecosystems to test whether floodplains moderate the effect of aridity. Aridity had a negative effect on the occurrence of 58 species (45%) in non-floodplain ecosystems, especially species dependent on forest and woodland habitats. Of these 58 species, the negative effects of aridity were moderated in floodplain ecosystems for 22 (38%) species: 12 showed no association with aridity in floodplain ecosystems and the adverse effects of aridity on species occurrence were less pronounced in floodplain ecosystems compared to non-floodplain ecosystems for ten species. Greater vegetation greenness indicated that floodplain vegetation was more productive than vegetation in non-floodplain ecosystems. Floodplain ecosystems allow many terrestrial species to occur in more arid regions than they otherwise would be expected to occupy. This may be due to higher vegetation productivity, cooler microclimates or connectivity of floodplain vegetation. Although floodplain and riparian ecosystems will become increasingly important for terrestrial species persistence as climate change increases drying in many parts of the world, many are also likely to be highly affected by reduced water availability.

Keywords

aridity gradient birds climate change climate refugia regional diversity riparian 

Notes

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank the late Shaun Cunningham for many useful discussions and for providing the floodplain vegetation spatial data. Hania Lada and the Arthur Rylah Institute compiled the species trait information. We thank Jian D. L. Yen and James R. Thomson for statistical advice. H.A. Ford, J.D.L. Yen, the Clarke laboratory and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable feedback. K.E.S acknowledges the support of the Holsworth Trust Wildlife Research Endowment and BirdLife Australia’s Stuart Leslie Bird Research Award. R.M. acknowledges the support of the Australian Research Council (grant LP120200217). We thank the many BirdLife Australia Atlasers whose contributions made this work possible.

Supplementary material

10021_2016_59_MOESM1_ESM.docx (119 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 118 kb) Appendix S1 Parameter estimates for the effect of aridity on species occurrence in non-floodplain and floodplain vegetation

REFERENCES

  1. Atlas of Living Australia and Bureau of Rural Sciences. 2015. Normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI*100). Australia: Atlas of Living Australia.Google Scholar
  2. Ballinger A, Lake PS. 2006. Energy and nutrient fluxes from rivers and streams into terrestrial food webs. Mar Freshw Res 57:15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrett G, Silcocks A, Barry S, Cunningham R, Poulter R. 2003. The new atlas of Australian birds. Hawthorn East, (VCT): Birds Australia (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union).Google Scholar
  4. Bennett AF, Nimmo DG, Radford JQ. 2014. Riparian vegetation has disproportionate benefits for landscape-scale conservation of woodland birds in highly modified environments. J Appl Ecol 51:514–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bivand R, Lewin-Koh N. 2013. maptools: Tools for reading and handling spatial objects. R package version 0.8-23.Google Scholar
  6. Brand LA, Stromberg JC, Goodrich DC, Dixon MD, Lansey K, Kang D, Brookshire DS, Cerasale DJ. 2011. Projecting avian response to linked changes in groundwater and riparian floodplain vegetation along a dryland river: a scenario analysis. Ecohydrology 4:130–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Breckwoldt R, Boden R, Andrew J. 2004. The Darling. Canberra: Murray–Darling Basin Commission.Google Scholar
  8. Brosofske KD, Chen J, Naiman RJ, Franklin JF. 1997. Harvesting effects on microclimatic gradients from small streams to uplands in western Washington. Ecol Appl 7:1188–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bureau of Meteorology (Australia). 2015a. Climate Data Online. Australia: Bureau of Meteorology.Google Scholar
  10. Bureau of Meteorology (Australia). 2015b. Gridded daily rainfall metadata. Australian Government.Google Scholar
  11. Bureau of Meteorology (Australia). 2015c. Gridded daily temperature metadata. Australian Government.Google Scholar
  12. Capon SJ, Chambers LE, Mac Nally R, Naiman RJ, Davies P, Marshall N, Pittock J, Reid M, Capon T, Douglas M, Catford J, Baldwin DS, Stewardson M, Roberts J, Parsons M, Williams S. 2013. Riparian ecosystems in the 21st Century: hotspots for climate change adaptation? Ecosystems 16:359–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Christidis L, Boles W. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. Canberra: CSIRO Publishing.Google Scholar
  14. Cunningham SC, Thomson JR, Mac Nally R, Read J, Baker PJ. 2011. Groundwater change forecasts widespread forest dieback across an extensive floodplain system. Freshw Biol 56:1494–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cunningham SC, White M, Griffioen P, Newell G, MacNally R. 2013. Mapping floodplain vegetation types across the Murray–Darling Basin using remote sensing. Canberra: Murray–Darling Basin Authority.Google Scholar
  16. Danehy RJ, Kirpes BJ. 2000. Relative humidity gradients across riparian areas in eastern Oregon and Washington forests. Northwest Sci 74:224–33.Google Scholar
  17. Davis J, Pavlova A, Thompson R, Sunnucks P. 2013. Evolutionary refugia and ecological refuges: key concepts for conserving Australian arid zone freshwater biodiversity under climate change. Glob Change Biol 19:1970–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Death RG, Collier KJ. 2010. Measuring stream macro invertebrate responses to gradients of vegetation cover: when is enough enough? Freshw Biol 55:1447–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Department of the Environment. 2012. Australia—Present Major Vegetation Groups—NVIS Version 4.1 (Albers 100m analysis product). Canberra: Australian GovernmentGoogle Scholar
  20. Department of the Environment. 2014. Natural areas of Australia—100 metre. Canberra: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  21. Dunning JBJ. 2007. CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses, 2nd edn. Florida: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Environment Australia. 2000. Revision of the interim biogeographic regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) and development of version 5.1. Canberra: Department of Environment and Heritage.Google Scholar
  23. Ezcurra E. 2006. Global Deserts outlook. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme.Google Scholar
  24. Fisher CD, Lindgren E, Dawson WR. 1972. Drinking patterns and behavior of Australian desert birds in relation to their ecology and abundance. The Condor 74:111–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fremier AK, Kiparsky M, Gmur S, Aycrigg J, Craig RK, Svancara LK, Goble DD, Cosens B, Davis FW, Scott JM. 2015. A riparian conservation network for ecological resilience. Biol Conserv 191:29–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gelman A. 2005. Analysis of variance—why it is more important than ever. Ann Stat 33:1–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Giling DP, Grace MR, Thomson JR, Mac Nally R, Thompson RM. 2014. Effect of native vegetation loss on stream ecosystem processes: dissolved organic matter composition and export in agricultural landscapes. Ecosystems 17:82–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hadfield JD. 2010. MCMC methods for multi-response generalized linear mixed models: the MCMCglmm R package. J Stat Softw 33:1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hartmann DL, Tank AMGK, Rusticucci M, Alexander LV, Brönnimann S, Charabi Y, Dentener FJ, Dlugokencky EJ, Easterling , Kaplan A, Soden BJ, Thorne PW, Wild M, Zhai PM, Plattner G-K, Tignor M, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM. 2013. Observations: atmosphere and surface. In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Eds. Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Haslem A, Nimmo DG, Radford JQ, Bennett AF. 2015. Landscape properties mediate the homogenization of bird assemblages during climatic extremes. Ecology 96:3165–74.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Higgins PJ. 1999. Parrots to dollarbird. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 4). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Higgins PJ, Davies SJJF. 1996. Snipe to pigeons. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 3). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Higgins PJ, Peter JM. 2002. Pardalotes to shrike-thrushes. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 6). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Higgins PJ, Peter JM, Cowling SJ. 2006. Boatbill to starlings. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 7). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Higgins PJ, Peter JM, Steele WK. 2001. Tyrant-flycatchers to chats. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 5). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hijmans RJ, van Etten J. 2013. raster: Geographic data analysis and modeling. R package version 2.1-16.Google Scholar
  37. Horner GJ, Baker PJ, Mac Nally R, Cunningham SC, Thomson JR, Hamilton F. 2009. Mortality of developing floodplain forests subjected to a drying climate and water extraction. Glob Change Biol 15:2176–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Junk WJ, Bayley PB, Sparks RE. 1989. The flood pulse concept in river-floodplain systems. Can Spec Publ Fish Aquat Sci 106:110–27.Google Scholar
  39. Kass RE, Raftery AE. 1995. Bayes factors. J Am Stat Assoc 90:773–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Knapp AK, Smith MD. 2001. Variation among biomes in temporal dynamics of aboveground primary production. Science 291:481–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Körtner G, Brigham RM, Geiser F. 2001. Torpor in free-ranging tawny frogmouths (Podargus strigoides). Physiol Biochem Zool 74:789–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Lada H, Mac Nally R, Taylor AC. 2008. Distinguishing past from present gene flow along and across a river: the case of the carnivorous marsupial (Antechinus flavipes) on southern Australian floodplains. Conserv Genet 9:569–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lislevand T, Figuerola J, Székely T. 2007. Avian body sizes in relation to fecundity, mating system, display behavior, and resource sharing. Ecology 88(6):1605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. MacNally R, Cunningham SC, Baker PJ, Horner GJ, Thomson JR. 2011. Dynamics of Murray–Darling floodplain forests under multiple stressors: The past, present, and future of an Australian icon. Water Resour Res. doi: 10.1029/2011WR010383.Google Scholar
  45. Mac Nally R, Soderquist TR, Tzaros C. 2000. The conservation value of mesic gullies in dry forest landscapes: avian assemblages in the box-ironbark ecosystem of southern Australia. Biol Conserv 92:293–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Marchant S, Higgins PJ. 1990. Ratites to ducks. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 1). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. McCluney KE, Sabo JL. 2009. Water availability directly determines per capita consumption at two trophic levels. Ecology 90:1463–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. McGinness HM, Arthur AD, Reid JRW. 2010. Woodland bird declines in the Murray–Darling Basin: are there links with floodplain change? Rangel J 32:315–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Meave J, Kellman M, MacDougall A, Rosales J. 1991. Riparian habitats as tropical forest refugia. Glob Ecol Biogeogr Lett 1:69–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Museth J, Johnsen SI, Walseng B, Hanssen O, Erikstad L. 2011. Managing biodiversity of floodplains in relation to climate change. Int J Clim Change Strateg Manag 3:402–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Naiman RJ, Decamps H, Pollock M. 1993. The role of riparian corridors in maintaining regional biodiversity. Ecol Appl 3:209–12.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Naumburg E, Mata-Gonzalez R, Hunter RG, Mclendon T, Martin DW. 2005. Phreatophytic vegetation and groundwater fluctuations: a review of current research and application of ecosystem response modeling with an emphasis on Great Basin vegetation. Environ Manag 35:726–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nimmo DG, Haslem A, Radford JQ, Hall M, Bennett AF. 2016. Riparian tree cover enhances the resistance and stability of woodland bird communities during an extreme climatic event. J Appl Ecol 53:1365–2664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pavey CR, Nano CEM. 2009. Bird assemblages of arid Australia: Vegetation patterns have a greater effect than disturbance and resource pulses. J Arid Environ 73:634–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Plummer M, Best N, Cowles K, Vines K. 2006. CODA: Convergence diagnosis and output analysis for MCMC. R news 6:7–11.Google Scholar
  56. QGIS Development Team. 2013. QGIS Geographic Information System. Open Source Geospatial Foundation Project. Project OSGF editor.Google Scholar
  57. R Core Team. 2015. R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Computing RFfS editor. Vienna, Austria: http://www.R-project.org/.
  58. Reside AE, Welbergen JA, Phillips BL, Wardell-Johnson GW, Keppel G, Ferrier S, Williams SE, Vanderwal J. 2014. Characteristics of climate change refugia for Australian biodiversity. Austral Ecol 39:887–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Richardson DM, Holmes PM, Esler KJ, Galatowitsch SM, Stromberg JC, Kirkman SP, Pyšek P, Hobbs RJ. 2007. Riparian vegetation: degradation, alien plant invasions, and restoration prospects. Divers Distrib 13:126–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Roberts J, Marston F. 2011. Water regime for wetland and floodplain plants: a source book for the Murray–Darling Basin. Canberra: National Water Commission.Google Scholar
  61. Rue H, Martino S, Chopin N. 2009. Approximate Bayesian inference for latent Gaussian models by using integrated nested Laplace approximations. J R Stat Soc 71:319–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sabo JL, Sponseller R, Dixon M, Gade K, Harms T, Heffernan J, Jani A, Katz G, Soykan C, Watts J, Welter J. 2005. Riparian zones increase regional species richness by harboring different, not more, species. Ecology 86:56–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Scholes RJ, Dowty PR, Caylor K, Parsons DAB, Frost PGH, Shugart HH. 2002. Trends in savanna structure and composition along an aridity gradient in the Kalahari. J Veg Sci 13:419–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schulze E-D, Mooney H, Sala O, Jobbagy E, Buchmann N, Bauer G, Canadell J, Jackson R, Loreti J, Oesterheld M. 1996. Rooting depth, water availability, and vegetation cover along an aridity gradient in Patagonia. Oecologia 108:503–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Seabrook L, McAlpine C, Baxter G, Rhodes J, Bradley A, Lunney D. 2011. Drought-driven change in wildlife distribution and numbers: a case study of koalas in south west Queensland. Wildl Res 38:509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Seavy NE, Gardali T, Golet GH, Griggs FT, Howell CA, Kelsey R, Small SL, Viers JH, Weigand JF. 2009. Why climate change makes riparian restoration more important than ever: recommendations for practice and research. Ecol Restor 27:330–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Selwood KE, Clarke RH, Cunningham SC, Lada H, McGeoch MA, Mac Nally R. 2015a. A bust but no boom: Responses of floodplain bird assemblages during and after prolonged drought. J Anim Ecol 84:1700–10.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Selwood KE, Thomson JR, Clarke RH, McGeoch MA, Mac Nally R. 2015b. Resistance and resilience of terrestrial birds in drying climates: do floodplains provide drought refugia? Glob Ecol Biogeogr 24:838–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Smith JE. 2015. Effects of environmental variation on the composition and dynamics of an arid-adapted Australian bird community. Pac Conser Biol 21:74–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Stromberg JC, Lite SJ, Rychener TJ, Levick LR, Dixon MD, Watts JM. 2006. Status of the riparian ecosystem in the upper San Pedro River, Arizona: application of an assessment model. Environ Monit Assess 115:145–73.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Tieleman BI, WIlliams JB, Bloomer P. 2003. Adaptation of metabolism and evaporative water loss along an aridity gradient. Proc R Soc Lond Series B 270:207–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tischler M, Dickman CR, Wardle GM. 2013. Avian functional group responses to rainfall across four vegetation types in the Simpson Desert, central Australia. Austral Ecol 38:809–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Tockner K, Stanford JA. 2002. Riverine flood plains: present state and future trends. Environ Conserv 29:308–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tzaros CL. 2001. Importance of riparian vegetation to terrestrial avifauna along the Murray River, south-eastern Australia (MSc Thesis). School of Ecology and Environment. Victoria: Deakin University.Google Scholar
  75. United Nations Environment Program. 1997. World atlas of desertification. London: UNEP.Google Scholar
  76. Wang J, Rich PM, Price KP, Kettle WD. 2004. Relations between NDVI and tree productivity in the central Great Plains. Int J Remote Sens 25:3127–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Whitford W, Rapport D, deSoyza A. 1999. Using resistance and resilience measurements for ‘fitness’ tests in ecosystem health. J Environ Manag 57:21–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Woinarski JCZ, Brock C, Armstrong M, Hempel C, Cheal D, Brennan K. 2000. Bird distribution in riparian vegetation in the extensive natural landscape of Australia’s tropical savanna: a broad-scale survey and analysis of a distributional data base. J Biogeogr 27:843–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Applied EcologyThe University of CanberraBruceAustralia

Personalised recommendations