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From clearfell coupe to old-growth forest: Succession of bird assemblages in Tasmanian lowland wet eucalypt forests.


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Hingston, AB and Grove, SJ 2010 , 'From clearfell coupe to old-growth forest: Succession of bird assemblages in Tasmanian lowland wet eucalypt forests.' , Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 259, no. 3 , pp. 459-468 , doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.11.001.

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As forests undergo succession after major disturbance events their assemblages of birds also change.
Thus the frequency and extent of wildfire or clearfelling in the landscape can potentially affect the
species-richness and abundance of forest birds. We used a chronosequence approach to investigate
succession of bird communities in Tasmanian lowland wet eucalypt forest, from shortly after
disturbance through to old-growth forest aged approximately 200–250 years. The number of native bird
species recorded per survey per site increased as a linear function of stand-age. However, succession did
not involve a unidirectional transition in assemblage-composition because of differences in successional
responses among individual species and also among guilds of birds that mostly inhabited different strata
of the forest. This was exemplified by the crescent honeyeater, which was observed most frequently in
the youngest (6–8 years) and oldest (200–250 years) forests that we surveyed, and by the superb lyrebird
(introduced to Tasmania from mainland south-eastern Australia) which favoured mid-aged regrowth
(42–43 years) after clearfelling. Forests aged 200–250 years had the greatest richness-per-survey of
those native species that were observed mostly in the lower layer or mid-layer. However, the greatest
richness-per-survey of canopy-dwelling species and the highest native species-richness across the
survey period were found in forests aged around 150 years. Younger regrowth was generally less rich in
birds, although regrowth in the first decade after clearfelling was the only seral stage inhabited by superb
fairy-wrens. These results suggest that, in the Tasmanian lowland wet eucalypt forest landscape,
species-richness of birds may be greatest when old-growth forest is interspersed with young regrowth
forests. Hence for bird conservation, a challenge is to ensure that old-growth forest continues to prevail
in the production forest landscape.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Hingston, AB and Grove, SJ
Keywords: Bird communities Clearcutting Forest management Silviculture Stand-age Wildfire
Journal or Publication Title: Forest Ecology and Management
ISSN: 0378-1127
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.11.001
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