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Middlebury College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Australia: Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology

Abstract

Bird communities in tropical forest ecosystems are highly threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. Replanted corridors connecting isolated forest remnants are a popular method of ameliorating certain negative impacts of habitat fragmentation. Such linkages can theoretically facilitate greater dispersal, increase gene flow, and reduce the risk of local extinctions in forest birds. However, relatively few studies have examined the utilization of reforested corridors by birds, and little hard data exists to support claims that this type of resource and time intensive project is the best use of often scarce funding for conservation. This study examined the avifaunal community present in the Lakes Corridor, located on the Atherton Tableland in northeast Queensland, Australia. Point counts were conducted at multiple sites during April 2016 to determine the range and abundance of species utilizing this 18 year old corridor. Reference sites in the two large forest fragments which it connects were also surveyed in order to provide a comparison between community composition in regrowth and remnants. Results were compared with data from two past studies of a similar nature at the same location, thereby showing change over time associated with the maturation of corridor vegetation. The Lakes Corridor was found to support similar species richness and a greater abundance of individuals than remnant forest. However, community composition varied between the two habitats, driven primarily by differences in the abundance of certain foraging guilds and the absence of many endemic species in the corridor. Although the corridor shows promise for increasing connectivity for many rainforest birds, questions remain about its effectiveness for certain species of particular conservation concern.

Disciplines

Biodiversity | Climate | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Monitoring | Population Biology | Poultry or Avian Science

 

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