Foraging behaviour of mulga birds in Western Australia. I. Use of resources and temporal effectsHarry F. Recher A C and William E. Davis
A School of Natural Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia and Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.
B Boston University, c/o 23 Knollwood Drive, East Falmouth, MA 02536, USA.
C Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pacific Conservation Biology 24(1) 74-86 https://doi.org/10.1071/PC17031
Submitted: 28 August 2017 Accepted: 5 February 2018 Published: 2 March 2018
The foraging behaviour of mulga birds in the Murchison and Gascoyne Bioregions was studied in 1999 following a period of heavy rain and again in 2002 when it was dry. Mulga birds allocated foraging resources in a similar fashion to other bird communities, with species differing in the way that prey were taken, the substrates and plant species on which prey were found, and the heights at which prey were sought. The numbers of birds and bird species in the study areas declined with drier conditions and there was less breeding activity. Nomadic species, including honeyeaters, seed-eaters, and insect-eaters, largely left the area as it became drier and food resources changed. The birds that remained foraged differently when it was drier than when conditions were wetter and food more abundant. These observations illustrate the fragility of the mulga avifauna and its likely sensitivity to long-term climate change with predicted increasing temperatures, more extreme heat events, and reduced winter rainfall. Conservation of mulga birds and associated flora and fauna requires a whole-of-landscape approach and the adoption of land management practices by Australian governments and land managers that will allow species to adapt to climate change and guarantee their right to evolve.
Additional keywords: arid-zone conservation, dispersive species, effects of rainfall, feral herbivores, Gascoyne Bioregion, Murchison Bioregion, nomadic birds, resource allocation
ReferencesBastin G. (2008). Rangelands 2008 – taking the pulse. National Land & Water Resources Audit, Canberra.
Bastin, G. (2014). Australian rangelands and climate change – meteorological drought. Ninti One Ltd and CSIRO, Alice Springs.
Bell, D. T., Luyer, J. R., and Agar, P. K. (2013). Birds of the Doolgunna and Mooloogool rangelands, northeast Gascoyne Region, Western Australia. Western Australian Journal of Ornithology 5, 1–13.
BOM/CSIRO (2016). ‘State of the Climate 2016.’ (Commonwealth of Australia: Canberra.)
Burbidge, A. A., and Fuller, P. J. (2007). Gibson Desert birds: responses to drought and plenty. Emu 107, 126–134.
| Gibson Desert birds: responses to drought and plenty.CrossRef |
Davis, W. E., and Recher, H. F. (2002). Winter mixed-species foraging flocks in Acacia woodlands of Western Australia. Corella 26, 74–78.
Hammer, Ø., and Harper, D. A. T. (2006). ‘Paleontological Data Analysis.’ (Blackwell Publications: Oxford.)
Hammer, Ø., Harper, D. A. T., and Ryan, D. (2001). PAST: paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4, 9 pp.
Letnic, M., and Dickman, C. R. (2010). Resource pulses and mammalian dynamics: conceptual models for hummock grasslands and other Australian desert habitats. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 85, 501–521.
| 1:STN:280:DC%2BC3cjgtlCkuw%3D%3D&md5=6a17249296bddd4a0902424254d20752CAS |
Maslin, B. and Reid, J. (2009). Understanding mulga. Information Sheet 25/Science Division. Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth.
Mitchell, A. A., and Wilcox, D. G. (1994). ‘Arid Shrubland Plants of Western Australia.’ (University of Western Australia Press: Perth.)
Recher, H. F. (2018). Foraging behaviour of mulga birds in Western Australia. II. Community structure and conservation. Pacific Conservation Biology , .
| Foraging behaviour of mulga birds in Western Australia. II. Community structure and conservation.CrossRef |
Recher, H. F., and Davis, W. E. (1997). Observations on the foraging ecology of a mulga bird community. Wildlife Research 24, 27–43.
| Observations on the foraging ecology of a mulga bird community.CrossRef |
Recher, H. F., and Davis, W. E. (1998). Foraging profile of a wandoo woodland avifauna during spring. Australian Journal of Ecology 23, 514–527.
| Foraging profile of a wandoo woodland avifauna during spring.CrossRef |
Recher, H. F., and Davis, W. E. (2002). Foraging profile of a salmon gum woodland avifauna in Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 85, 103–111.
Recher, H. F., and Davis, W. E. (2010). The foraging behaviour of woodland birds along the mulga–eucalypt line in Western Australia during late winter and spring. Amytornis: Western Australian Journal of Ornithology s2, 29–41.
Recher, H. F., and Davis, W. E. (2014). Response of birds to episodic summer rainfall in the Great Western Woodlands, Western Australia. Australian Zoologist 37, 206–224.
| Response of birds to episodic summer rainfall in the Great Western Woodlands, Western Australia.CrossRef |
Recher, H. F., and Gebski, V. (1989). Analysis of the foraging ecology of eucalypt forest birds: sequential versus single-point observations. Studies in Avian Biology 13, 534–548.
Recher, H. F., Holmes, R. T., Schulz, M., Shields, J., and Kavanagh, R. (1985). Foraging patterns of breeding birds in eucalypt forest and woodland of south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 10, 399–419.
| Foraging patterns of breeding birds in eucalypt forest and woodland of south-eastern Australia.CrossRef |
Recher, H. F., Davis, W. E., and Calver, M. (2002). Resource partitioning and the comparative foraging ecology of five species of ground-pouncing birds in Western Australian eucalypt woodlands. Ornithological Science 1, 29–40.
| Resource partitioning and the comparative foraging ecology of five species of ground-pouncing birds in Western Australian eucalypt woodlands.CrossRef |
Serventy, D. L., and Whittell, H. M. (1962). ‘Birds of Western Australia.’ 3rd edn. (Paterson Brokensha Pty Ltd: Perth.)
Tischler, M., Dickman, C. R., and Wardle, G. M. (2013). Avian functional group responses to rainfall across four vegetation types in the Simpson Desert, central Australia. Austral Ecology 38, 809–819.
| Avian functional group responses to rainfall across four vegetation types in the Simpson Desert, central Australia.CrossRef |
Williams, J. (2002). Fire regimes and their impacts in the mulga (Acacia aneura) landscapes of central Australia. In ‘Australian Fire Regimes: Contemporary Patterns (April 1998 – March 2000) and Changes Since European Settlement’. (Eds J. Russell-Smith, R. Craig, A. M. Gill, R. Smith, and J. Williams.) pp. 1–58. Australia State of the Environment Second Technical Paper Series (Biodiversity), Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/90ab/42844f83bde421c5eb6b2c70410acc07ffc9.pdf [accessed 20 January 2017].
Woinarski, J., Traill, B., and Booth, C. (2014). ‘The Modern Outback: Nature, People and the Future of Remote Australia.’ (Pew Charitable Trust: Australia.)