Abstract: The temperate woodlands of the northern Australian Capital Territory and bordering the New South Wales region of eastern Australia have been extensively disturbed by agriculture and urbanization. Small patches of woodland are now embedded in a pastoral or suburban matrix. Birds within landscapes of this region are threatened by a reduction in habitat area, increased isolation, and declining habitat condition. Within this setting, we assessed Lambeck's (1997)“focal species” approach for its ability to identify the minimum patch size, habitat structural complexity, and landscape connectivity required to accommodate existing woodland birds. Presence/absence data were gathered for 72 woodland remnants that varied in size, isolation, and habitat structural complexity. The Hooded Robin ( Melanodryas cucullata) was identified as the focal species for the threats of area and resource limitation because it had the most demanding requirements for area (>100 ha) and habitat complexity. The eastern Yellow Robin ( Eopsaltria australis) was the species most threatened by isolation of remnants. A landscape designed to meet the habitat requirements of these birds should encompass the requirements of all other woodland bird species that are sensitive to similar threats. A revegetation scenario based on the requirements of these two focal species is not feasible because the majority (>95%) of woodland remnants within the study area are too small, too lacking in habitat structural complexity, and too isolated to meet the requirements of the focal species. If woodland management guidelines concentrate on increasing small remnants to 10 ha in size and on ensuring that these remnants have complex shrub and ground‐layer vegetation and are not isolated by more than 1.5 km from neighboring remnants, the needs of at least 95% of the resident woodland bird species in the region should be accommodated. The focal‐species approach was effective for rapidly developing planning guidelines for the conservation of woodland birds in these variegated landscapes, and the approach is likely to be useful for guiding landscape reconstruction in other environments.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Oct 20, 2001
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