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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 24(6)

Initial Changes in the Avian Communities of Remnant Eucalypt Woodlands following a Reduction in the Abundance of Noisy Miners, Manorina melanocephala

Merilyn J. Grey, Michael F. Clarke and Richard H. Loyn

Wildlife Research 24(6) 631 - 648
Published: 1997


It has been postulated that aggressive honeyeaters like the noisy miner, Manorina melanocephala, may contribute to rural tree decline by excluding small insectivorous birds from remnant patches of woodland, thereby reducing the level of predation upon defoliating insects. Previous studies provide correlational evidence that avian diversity and abundance is lower in remnant patches of woodland occupied by noisy miners than in those without noisy miners. Noisy miners were removed from three small remnant patches of woodland in north-eastern Victoria. The removal of the majority of noisy miners from a site, or even the removal of only part of a noisy miner colony from a site, resulted in a major influx of honeyeaters and other insectivorous birds to these sites in the following three months. Such major invasions were not observed on matching control sites. At two of the three removal sites, this led to an increase in both the abundance and diversity of birds on the site. At the third site, there was an increase in the diversity, but not the abundance of birds. These experiments are the first to demonstrate that noisy miners affect avian diversity and abundance by aggressive exclusion of small birds. They also showed that if domination by noisy miners is reduced, small, degraded woodland remnants can support significant populations of some small insectivorous birds and honeyeaters. Noisy miners did not reinvade the experimental sites during the following 16 months and avian diversity and abundance remained higher at the experimental sites than at the paired control sites. Long-term monitoring is needed to determine whether the small invading bird species have a lasting effect upon insect populations and tree health.

Full text doi:10.1071/WR96080

© CSIRO 1997

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