Landscape context affects honeyeater communities and their foraging behaviour in Australia: implications for plant pollination
Elliott, C.P., Lindenmayer, D.B., Cunningham, S.A. and Young, A.G. (2012) Landscape context affects honeyeater communities and their foraging behaviour in Australia: implications for plant pollination. Landscape Ecology, 27 (3). pp. 393-404.
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We investigated the species richness and composition of bird communities in mallee woodland remnants in a highly fragmented landscape, focusing specifically on honeyeaters and their foraging behaviour. We observed birds around flowering Eremophila glabra ssp. glabra plants in three replicated contexts: (1) the interior of large remnants, (2) linear remnants within ~3 km of a large remnant, and (3) linear remnants 5-7 km from a large remnant. We found species richness differed among elements, with an increase in the number of species that tolerate disturbed, open habitat and a decrease in the number of woodland-dependent species in linear elements. Honeyeater assemblages were similar in species richness and abundance among the elements, but differed in composition due to a higher number of large-sized honeyeater species in distant elements. Honeyeater movement patterns into a site and within a site were similar among the elements. Floral visitation varied among honeyeater species and was positively correlated with their abundance in the far element. Our results demonstrate that bird species respond differently to the spatial context of remnants in a fragmented landscape; however, the degree of isolation of linear remnants was not important. Linear remnants appear to be frequently used by honeyeaters, but the changes in community composition among the elements may influence the quality of pollination, which could have implications for plant reproduction.
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