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An exotic woody weed in a pastoral landscape provides habitat for many native species, but has no apparent threatened species conservation significance

Ranyard, CE, Kirkpatrick, JB ORCID: 0000-0003-2763-2692, Johnson, CN ORCID: 0000-0002-9719-3771, Barmuta, LA ORCID: 0000-0002-8946-3727 and Jones, ME ORCID: 0000-0001-7558-9022 2018 , 'An exotic woody weed in a pastoral landscape provides habitat for many native species, but has no apparent threatened species conservation significance' , Ecological Management and Restoration, vol. 19, no. 3 , pp. 212-221 , doi: 10.1111/emr.12338.

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Abstract

Exotic woody plants are often used by native organisms, but may also be targets of expensive control justified by nature conservation. We determine the use of a weed of national significance, Gorse (Ulex europaeus L.), by native mammals, birds, reptiles and vascular plants in pastoral areas in an Australian biodiversity hotspot. Large numbers of fauna species were observed using Gorse within our 43 × 1 ha sample sites in riparian, woodland and pasture vegetation. Gorse cover and/or height positively influenced: the detection of mammals as a whole in an interaction with visibility at 50-75 cm above ground, but not their species richness or individual species abundances; bird abundance, but not richness; and, reptile richness but not abundance. In terms of flora, Gorse cover and/or height positively affected: non‐native plant species richness and the height and fecundity, but not the richness, of native grasses and forbs - but Gorse cover negatively influenced the height of native herbs. The only species of conservation significance using Gorse were three mammals, only one of which, the Tasmanian Pademelon (Thylogale billardieri), was sufficiently common to analyse. Its abundance had no relationship with Gorse cover or height. Even in the wider context of complementary work, there is no strong threatened species conservation justification for retaining Gorse thickets in the Northern Midlands pastoral landscape. Equally, expending scarce conservation resources to remove Gorse, as is taking place, is unlikely to achieve any threatened species conservation outcome but may help reduce long‐term loss of native animal and plant species.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Ranyard, CE and Kirkpatrick, JB and Johnson, CN and Barmuta, LA and Jones, ME
Keywords: gorse, wildlife, agricultural land, invasive plant species
Journal or Publication Title: Ecological Management and Restoration
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
ISSN: 1442-7001
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/emr.12338
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 Ecological Society of Australia and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

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