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Use of roadside remnants of softwood scrub vegetation by birds in south-eastern Queensland

Leach, G.J. and Recher, H.F. (1993) Use of roadside remnants of softwood scrub vegetation by birds in south-eastern Queensland. Wildlife Research, 20 (2). pp. 233-249.

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Birds in roadside and remnant patches of vegetation in the Marburg district of south-eastern Queensland were studied from November 1989 to February 1990. Effects of the length, width and height of the tree, shrub and herb layers, and their major components, on the bird community were determined. In all, 43 species of birds were observed in roadside vegetation; 16 of these were abundant and widely distributed. Silvereyes were most frequently observed (240 observations), followed by superb fairy-wrens (59), yellow thornbills (53), double-barred finches (26), red-backed fairy-wrens (25) and Lewin's honeyeaters (20). Apart from silvereyes (20-654 of observations), and superb fairy-wrens on two roads (12 and 13%) and yellow thornbills on one (15%), no other species constituted more than 10% of observations on any road. In all, 48 species of birds were observed in remnant patches of vegetation, 14 in all of them. Rates of detection in remnant patches ranged from 2.7 to 5.3 birds per 5 min compared with a mean maximum rate for roadside vegetation of 1.3. The richness of the roadside avifauna increased significantly (P=0.001) as the volume (length x width x height) of the tree component, especially the softwood species, increased. The diversity of tree species in softwood remnants and the greater canopy density appear to be important factors that enhance the bird community. The number of birds was also correlated (P=0.05) with the volume of brigalow, Acacia harpophylla. The correlation of the volume of woody weeddshrubs with the number of birds was low (P=0.05), and with the number of species not significant, even though woody weeds were a major component of roadside vegetation. Although supporting fewer birds than remnant patches of vegetation, roadside vegetation contributes importantly to conservation of the avifauna in the Marburg district. Some simple management practices, such as maintaining a minimum width of undisturbed vegetation and retaining vegetation diversity, would ensure or enhance the long-term conservation benefits. Opportunities to regenerate softwood remnants could also be taken, particularly to enhance the value, and possibly prolong the life, of the associated remnants of brigalow.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 1993
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