Bird assemblages of arid Australia: Vegetation patterns have a greater effect than disturbance and resource pulses

Bird assemblages of arid Australia: Vegetation patterns have a greater effect than disturbance and resource pulses Journal Article

Journal of Arid Environments

  • Author(s): Pavey, C. R., Nano, C. E. M.
  • Published: 2009
  • Volume: 73
  • ISBN: 0140-1963

Abstract: Arid birds are known to be highly responsive to spatio-temporal changes in food and water availability, and it is thought that this ‘resource tracking’ will obscure predictable patterns of community structure. Here we examine this resource hypothesis by assessing assemblage structure of birds in relation to landscape-scale environmental variation in the Finke bioregion of arid inland Australia, during an exceptionally high and extended rainfall period. We surveyed 197 sites stratified according to land system, run-off/run-on elements and distance to water, and recorded 106 resident and nomadic species. Cluster analysis produced five assemblages, four of which could be readily linked to a specific habitat type. Constrained ordination (CCA) was carried out using 38 variables that measured environmental gradients, vegetation attributes, food and water availability, and disturbance level. Species patterns correlated most strongly with vegetation variables (woodland, chenopod, grassland, and % mulga cover), and % weed cover. By contrast resource variables (flowering, fruiting, and water proximity), introduced herbivores, and most structural variables were poor predictors of species presence. Thus, we showed that resource availability and grazing disturbance are not major drivers of Australian arid bird assemblage patterns. Instead, patterning relates more to the interaction between bird foraging behaviour and breeding requirements and vegetation assemblages.

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Suggested Citation
Pavey, C. R., Nano, C. E. M., 2009, Bird assemblages of arid Australia: Vegetation patterns have a greater effect than disturbance and resource pulses, Volume:73, Journal Article, viewed 13 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=13035.

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