Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1649–1670 | Cite as

Bird assemblages in fragmented agricultural landscapes: the role of small brigalow remnants and adjoining land uses

  • Stuart Collard
  • Andrew Le Brocque
  • Charlie Zammit
Original Paper

Abstract

Agricultural intensification typically leads to changes in bird diversity and community composition, with fewer species and foraging guilds present in more intensively managed parts of the landscape. In this study, we compare bird communities in small (2–32 ha) brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) remnants with those in adjacent uncultivated grassland, previously cultivated grassland and current cropland, to determine the contribution of different land uses to bird diversity in the agricultural landscape. Twenty remnant brigalow patches and adjacent agricultural (‘matrix’) areas in southern inland Queensland, Australia were sampled for bird composition and habitat characteristics. The richness, abundance and diversity of birds were all significantly higher in brigalow remnants than in the adjacent matrix of cropping and grassland. Within the matrix, species richness and diversity were higher in uncultivated grasslands than in current cultivation or previously cultivated grasslands. Forty-four percent of bird species were recorded only in brigalow remnants and 78% of species were recorded in brigalow and at least one other land management category. Despite high levels of landscape fragmentation and modification, small patches of remnant brigalow vegetation provide important habitat for a unique and diverse assemblage of native birds. The less intensively managed components of the agricultural matrix also support diverse bird assemblages and thus, may be important for local and regional biodiversity conservation.

Keywords

Birds Land use Brigalow Fragmentation Intensification 

References

  1. Arnold GW, Maller RA, Litchfield R (1987) Comparison of bird populations in remnants of Wandoo woodland and in adjacent farmland. Aust Wildl Res 14:331–341. doi:10.1071/WR9870331 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrett GW, Ford HA, Recher HF (1994) Conservation of woodland birds in a fragmented rural landscape. Pac Conserv Biol 1:245–256Google Scholar
  3. Barrett G, Silcocks A, Barry S et al (2003) The new atlas of Australian birds. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  4. Brooker L, Brooker M, Cale P (1999) Animal dispersal in fragmented habitat: measuring habitat connectivity, corridor use, and dispersal mortality. Conserv Ecol 3:4 (online)Google Scholar
  5. Buckingham DL, Peach WJ, Fox DS (2006) Effects of agricultural management on the use of lowland grassland by foraging birds. Agric Ecosyst Environ 112:21–40. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2005.06.019 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bureau of Meteorology (2005) http://www.bom.gov.au. Accessed 25 Aug 2005
  7. Catling PC, Burt RJ (1995) Studies of ground-dwelling mammals of eucalypt forests in south-eastern NSW: the effect of habitat variables on distribution and abundance. Wildl Res 22:271–288. doi:10.1071/WR9950271 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clarke KR, Warwick RM (2001) Changes in marine communities: an approach to statistical analyses and interpretation, 2nd edn. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  9. Collard SJ (2007) Agricultural intensification and ecosystem function in a brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) landscape: implications for ecosystem services. Dissertation, University of Southern QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  10. Collard SJ, Zammit C (2006) Effects of land use intensification on soil carbon and ecosystem services in Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) landscapes of southeast Queensland, Australia. Agric Ecosyst Environ 117:185–194. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2006.04.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Donald PF, Evans AD (2006) Habitat connectivity and matrix restoration: the wider implications of agri-environment schemes. J Appl Ecol 43:209–218. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2006.01146.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dorricott KE, Voller PJ, Lawrie BC (1998) Balancing production with nature conservation: case studies from southern inland Queensland. Queensland Department of Environment, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB (2002) Small patches can be valuable for biodiversity conservation: two case studies on birds in southeastern Australia. Biol Conserv 106:129–136. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00241-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grey MJ, Clarke MF, Lyon RH (1998) Influences of the Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala on avian diversity and abundance in remnant grey box woodland. Pac Conserv Biol 4:55–69Google Scholar
  15. Harris PS, Biggs AJW, Stone BJ et al (eds) (1999) Resource information book in central Darling Downs land management manual. Department of Natural Resources, QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  16. Johnson R (2001) Fauna use of remnant brigalow communities in the Brigalow Belt South bioregion and implications for management. In: Exelby A, Melzer A (eds) Remnant vegetation in the Brigalow Belt: management and conservation. Centre for Environmental Management, Central Queensland University, Gladstone, pp 77–83Google Scholar
  17. Jones GA, Sieving KE, Jacobson SK (2005) Avian diversity and functional insectivory on North-Central Florida farmlands. Conserv Biol 19:1234–1245. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00211.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Laiolo P (2005) Spatial and seasonal patterns of bird communities in Italian agroecosystems. Conserv Biol 19:1547–1556. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.004376.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leach GL, Hines HB (1993) Frequency of observation of bird species in sub-coastal farmland in southeast Queensland. Mem Qld Mus 33:259–275Google Scholar
  20. Loyn RH (1987) Effects of patch area and habitat on bird abundances, species numbers and tree health in fragmented Victorian forests. In: Saunders D, Arnold G, Burbidge A, Hopkins A (eds) Nature conservation: the role of remnants of native vegetation. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, pp 65–77Google Scholar
  21. Luck GW, Possingham HP, Paton DC (1999) Bird responses at inherent and induced edges in the Murray mallee, South Australia. 2. Nest predation as an edge effect. Emu 99:170–175. doi:10.1071/MU99020 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Major RE, Christie FJ, Gowing G (2001) Influence of remnant and landscape attributes on Australian woodland bird communities. Biol Conserv 102:47–66. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00090-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Maron M (2007) Threshold effect of eucalypt density on an aggressive avian competitor. Biol Conserv 136:100–107. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2006.11.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Martin TG, Catterall CP (2001) Do fragmented coastal heathlands have habitat value to birds in eastern Australia? Wildl Res 28:17–31. doi:10.1071/WR99096 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Martin TG, Possingham HP (2005) Predicting the impact of livestock grazing on birds using foraging height data. J Appl Ecol 42:400–408. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2005.01012.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Martin TG, McIntyre S, Catterall CP et al (2006) Is landscape context important for riparian conservation? Birds in grassy woodland. Biol Conserv 127:201–214. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.08.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McFarland D, Haseler M, Venz M et al (1999) Terrestrial vertebrate fauna of the Brigalow Belt South bioregion: assessment and analysis for conservation planning. Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  28. McIntyre S, Hobbs RJ (1999) A framework for conceptualizing human effects on landscapes and its relevance to management and research models. Conserv Biol 13:1282–1292. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1999.97509.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McKinney ML, Lockwood JL (1999) Biotic homogenisation: a few winners replacing many losers in the next mass extinction. Trends Ecol Evol 14:450–453. doi:10.1016/S0169-5347(99)01679-1 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Neldner VJ, Wilson BA, Thompson EJ et al. (2005) Methodology for survey and mapping of regional ecosystems and vegetation communities in Queensland. Version 3.1. Updated September 2005. Queensland Herbarium, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  31. Piper SD, Catterall CP (2004) Effects of edge type and nest height on predation of artificial nests within subtropical Australian eucalypt forests. For Ecol Manag 203:361–372. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2004.08.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Recher HF, Holmes RT, Schulz M et al (1985) Foraging patterns of breeding birds in eucalypt forest and woodland of southeastern Australia. Aust J Ecol 10:399–419. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.1985.tb00902.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Reid JWR (1999) Threatened and declining birds in the New South Wales sheep-wheat belt: diagnosis, characteristics and management. CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  34. Saunders DA, Hobbs RJ, Margules CR (1991) Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: a review. Conserv Biol 5:18–32. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.1991.tb00384.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry, 3rd edn. Freeman Co, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Tilman D, May RM, Lehman CL et al (1994) Habitat destruction and the extinction debt. Nature 371:65–66. doi:10.1038/371065a0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Watson DM, MacNally R, Bennett AF (2000) The avifauna of severely fragmented, Buloke Allocasuarina luehmanni woodland in western Victoria, Australia. Pac Conserv Biol 6:46–60Google Scholar
  38. Whitmore MJ, Dow DD, Fisk P et al (1983) An annotated list of the birds on Meandarra, Queensland. Emu 83:19–27Google Scholar
  39. Wildlife Online (2007) Environmental protection agency, Queensland. http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/projects/park. Accessed 7 Dec 2007
  40. Woinarski JCZ, McCosker JC, Gordon G et al (2006) Monitoring change in the vertebrate fauna of central Queensland, Australia, over a period of broad-scale vegetation clearance, 1973–2002. Wildl Ecol 33:263–274. doi:10.1071/WR03110 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Woodhouse SP, Good JEG, Lovett AA et al (2005) Effects of land-use and agricultural management on birds of marginal farmland: a case study in the Llyn peninsula, Wales. Agric Ecosyst Environ 107:331–340. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2004.12.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Collard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew Le Brocque
    • 1
  • Charlie Zammit
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Australian Centre for Sustainable Catchments and Faculty of SciencesThe University of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia
  2. 2.GlensideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Environment and Water ResourcesCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Faculty of SciencesThe University of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

Personalised recommendations