What makes an effective restoration planting for woodland birds?

D.B. Lindenmayer , E.J. Knight, M.J. Crane, R. Montague-Drake, D.R. Michael, C.I. MacGregor. 2010. Biological Conservation. 43(2):289-301

Broad-scale restoration generally focuses on vegetation, and the effects of restoration on faunal communities are often not well understood. Lindenmayer et al. quantify the relationship between bird species richness and the presence of individual species across southeast Australian woodland restoration sites to the site’s context (vegetation surrounding the site), configuration (location) and content (vegetation features of the site).

Species richness was higher in larger sites and sites surrounded by native vegetation. More interestingly, richness was higher in sites with frequent mistletoe clumps, likely because mistletoe provides habitat and forage. These two results translate into clears suggestion for how management can locate and plant sites in order to encourage avian diversity. I liked that the paper takes it a step further to consider the measures necessary if the restoration goal is to increase the presence of rare species rather than to increase species richness. For example, Noisy Miners (great common name!) can form aggressive groups that inhibit rare species like the White-plumed Honeyeater. These groups were less likely to form in sites with dense Acacia thickets. Planting a dense understory may thus indirectly benefit rare species. The paper provides a thoughtful and data-based consideration these questions, and is a nice example of how well-considered monitoring can direct restoration efforts to meet specific goals for faunal conservation.

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