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Short-term logging and burning impacts on species richness, abundance and community structure of birds in open eucalypt forest in Western Australia

Abbott, I., Mellican, A., Craig, M.D., Williams, M., Liddelow, G. and Wheeler, I. (2003) Short-term logging and burning impacts on species richness, abundance and community structure of birds in open eucalypt forest in Western Australia. Wildlife Research, 30 (4). pp. 321-329.

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In 1985 new silvicultural prescriptions for managing jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest in south-west Western Australia came into operation. The most extreme logging treatment (gap release) involved removal of most of the overstorey from patches no larger than 10 ha, followed by a regeneration fire. In the other logging treatment (shelterwood), less wood was removed from a larger area, also followed by a fire. This study examined the impact of these disturbances on the avifauna by monitoring species richness and abundance of birds one year before logging, one year before burning, and for five years after burning. Although 68 bird species were recorded during the seven years of the study, 29 of these were detected fewer than 15 times. Of the other 39 bird species recorded, only two (Gerygone fusca and Acanthiza apicalis) showed a statistically significant treatment effect over time on their abundance. The abundance of G. fusca initially declined in the disturbed treatments and by Year 7 of the study (5 years post-fire) in the gap-release treatment had not recovered its original abundance. A. apicalis increased its abundance in both shelterwood and gap-release treatments. By Year 7, both species in the logged treatments had abundances similar to those in the unlogged treatments. Total abundance of all species varied little across treatments. Species richness was highest by Year 7 in the shelterwood and lowest in the gap-release treatment. In some years community structure varied more at the external-reference sites (not recently logged or burnt) than at the gap-release sites. In particular, there was little overlap in community structure in the external-reference treatment between the first and final years, whereas the pre-logging and final year in the gap-release treatment showed a high degree of overlap. These differences are suggestive of overriding short-term annual variation in broad-scale factors rather than local factors. Yearly variation in rainfall and temperature was documented; during low rainfall periods, populations of foliage arthropods may have been reduced.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 2003
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