Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Does the presence of grevilleas and eucalypts in urban gardens influence the distribution and foraging ecology of Noisy Miners?

Lisa C. Ashley A C D , Richard E. Major B and Charlotte E. Taylor A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

B Terrestrial Ecology, Australian Museum, 6 College St, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

C Present address: Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: l.ashley@usyd.edu.au

Emu 109(2) 135-142 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU07043
Submitted: 26 August 2007  Accepted: 27 February 2009   Published: 10 June 2009

Abstract

Noisy Miners have been described as a ‘reverse keystone’ species, aggressively excluding many bird species from an ever-increasing range of human-dominated landscapes. Understanding the factors influencing the distribution of Noisy Miners is therefore an important research priority. To determine whether a relationship exists between the distribution of Noisy Miners and the vegetation composition of suburban gardens, birds were surveyed according to a factorial design defined by the presence or absence of grevilleas and eucalypts. Contrary to popular expectation, there was no significant association between the abundance of Noisy Miners and the presence of hybrid grevilleas. However, there was a highly significant relationship between the abundance of Noisy Miners and the presence of eucalypts. Analysis of foraging time budgets showed that Noisy Miners consistently spent 25–30% of their foraging time feeding on grevilleas (only in sites in which they were present). Similar amounts of time were spent foraging in eucalypts or in flowering callistemons (when available), and the presence of grevilleas did not result in a reduction in overall commitments to foraging. Noisy Miners also spent substantial amounts of time foraging on open ground. This study does not support the notion that hybrid grevilleas have played a causal role in the spread of Noisy Miners across many suburban areas of eastern Australia. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that it is the proliferation of lightly-treed open areas that favours the Noisy Miner.

Additional keyword: Manorina melanocephala.


Acknowledgements

We thank Wade Ashley and Marion Wadsworth for their help with fieldwork, Kate Ravich and Judy Christie for drumming up volunteers and conducting surveys, and the many volunteers that allowed the use of their private gardens. This research was conducted in partial fulfilment of an honours degree (L. C. Ashley) and with approval from the University of Sydney Human and Animal Ethics Committees (Animal ethics committee protocol number L04/10-2003/1/3820; Human ethics committee protocol number 7052). Funding for the research was provided by the University of Sydney and Birds in Backyards, a program of Birds Australia and the Australian Museum.


References

Benson D. and Howell J. (1995). ‘Taken for Granted: The Bushland of Sydney and its Suburbs.’ (Kangaroo Press: Kenthurst, Sydney.)

Catterall C. P. (2004). Birds, garden plants and suburban bushlots: where good intentions meet unexpected outcomes. In ‘Urban Wildlife: More Than Meets the Eye’. (Eds D. Lunney and S. Burgin.) pp. 21–31. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Catterall, C. P. , Kingston, M. B. , Park, K. , and Sewell, S. (1998). Deforestation, urbanisation and seasonality: interacting effects on a regional bird assemblage. Biological Conservation 84, 65–81.
CrossRef |

Clarke, M. F. , and Oldland, J. M. (2007). Penetration of remnant edges by noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala) and implications for habitat restoration. Wildlife Research 34, 253–261.


Clergeau, P. , Savard, J. P. L. , Mennechez, G. , and Falardeau, G. (1998). Bird abundance and diversity along an urban–rural gradient: a comparative study between two cities on different continents. Condor 100, 413–425.
CrossRef |

Collins, B. G. , and Morellini, P. C. (1979). The influence of nectar concentration and time of day upon energy intake and expenditure by the Singing Honeyeater, Meliphaga virescens. Physiological Zoology 52, 165–175.


Collins, B. G. , and Rebelo, T. (1987). Pollination biology of the Proteaceae in Australia and southern Africa. Australian Journal of Ecology 12, 387–421.
CrossRef |

Collins, B. G. , Newland, C. , and Briffa, P. (1984). Nectar utilization and pollination by Australian honeyeaters and insects visiting Calothamnus quadrifus (Myrtaceae). Australian Journal of Ecology 9, 353–365.
CrossRef |

Daniels, G. D. , and Kirkpatrick, J. B. (2006). Does variation in garden characteristics influence the conservation of birds in suburbia? Biological Conservation 133, 326–335.
CrossRef |

Dow, D. D. (1977). Indiscriminate interspecific aggression leading to almost sole occupancy of space by a single species of bird. Emu 77, 115–121.


Dow, D. D. (1979). Agonistic and spacing behaviour of the Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala, a communally breeding honeyeater. Ibis 121, 423–436.
CrossRef |

England, P. R. , Beynon, F. , Ayre, D. J. , and Whelan, R. J. (2001). A molecular genetic assessment of mating-system variation in a naturally bird-pollinated shrub: contributions from birds and introduced honeybees. Conservation Biology 15, 1645–1655.
CrossRef |

Evans, R. , Catterall, C. P. , and Brumm, G. V. (1997). The habitat value of extremely small bushland remnants to birds in Brisbane. Sunbird 27, 38–44.


Fernandez-Juricic, E. (2000). Avifaunal use of wooded streets in an urban landscape. Conservation Biology 14, 513–521.
CrossRef |

Ford, H. A. , and Paton, D. C. (1976). Resource partitioning and competition in honeyeaters of the genus Meliphaga. Australian Journal of Ecology 1, 281–287.
CrossRef |

Ford, H. A. , Paton, D. C. , and Forde, N. (1979). Birds as pollinators of Australian plants. New Zealand Journal of Botany 17, 509–519.


French, K. , Major, R. , and Hely, K. (2005). Use of native and exotic garden plants by suburban nectarivorous birds. Biological Conservation 121, 545–559.
CrossRef |

Germaine, S. S. , Rosenstock, S. S. , Schweinsburg, R. E. , and Richardson, W. S. (1998). Relationships among breeding birds, habitat, and residential development in greater Tucson, Arizona. Ecological Applications 8, 680–691.
CrossRef |

Grey, M. J. , Clarke, M. F. , and Loyn, R. H. (1997). Initial changes in the avian communities of remnant eucalypt woodlands following a reduction in the abundance of noisy miners, Manorina melanocephala. Wildlife Research 24, 631–648.
CrossRef |

Grey, M. J. , Clarke, M. F. , and Loyn, R. H. (1998). Influence of the noisy miner Manorina melanocephala on avian diversity and abundance in remnant grey box woodland. Pacific Conservation Biology 4, 55–69.


Griffioen, P. A. , and Clarke, M. F. (2002). Large-scale bird-movement patterns evident in eastern Australian atlas data. Emu 102, 99–125.
CrossRef |

Hastings, R. A. , and Beattie, A. J. (2006). Stop the bullying in the corridors: can including shrubs make your revegetation more Noisy Miner free? Ecological Management & Restoration 7, 105–112.
CrossRef |

Hixon, M. A. , Carpenter, F. L. , and Paton, D. C. (1983). Territory area, flower density, and time budgeting in hummingbirds: an experimental and theoretical analysis. American Naturalist 122, 366–391.
CrossRef |

Jokimäki, J. , and Huhta, E. (2000). Artificial nest predation and abundance of birds along an urban gradient. Condor 102, 838–847.
CrossRef |

Keast, A. (1995). Habitat loss and species loss: the birds of Sydney 50 years ago and now. Australian Zoologist 30, 3–25.


Low, T. (1994). Invasion of the savage honeyeaters. Australian Natural History 26, 26–33.


MacDonald, M. A. , and Kirkpatrick, J. B. (2003). Explaining bird species composition and richness in eucalypt-dominated remnants in subhumid Tasmania. Journal of Biogeography 30, 1415–1426.
CrossRef |

MacNally, R. , and Horrocks, G. (2002). Relative influences of patch, landscape and historical factors on birds in an Australian fragmented landscape. Journal of Biogeography 29, 395–410.
CrossRef |

MacNally, R. , and McGoldrick, J. M. (1997). Landscape dynamics of bird communities in relation to mass flowering in some eucalypt forests of central Victoria, Australia. Journal of Avian Biology 28, 171–183.
CrossRef |

MacNally, R. , Horrocks, G. , and Bennett, A. F. (2002). Nestedness in fragmented landscapes: birds of the box-ironbark forests of south-eastern Australia. Ecography 25, 651–660.
CrossRef |

Major, R. E. , Christie, F. J. , and Gowing, G. (2001). Influence of remnant and landscape attributes on Australian woodland bird communities. Biological Conservation 102, 47–66.
CrossRef |

Maron, M. (2007). Threshold effect of eucalypt density on an aggressive avian competitor. Biological Conservation 136, 100–107.
CrossRef |

Maron, M. (2009). Nesting, foraging and aggression of Noisy Miners relative to road edges in an extensive Queensland forest. Emu 109, 75–81.
CrossRef |

Maron, M. , and Kennedy, S. (2007). Roads, fire and aggressive competitors: determinants of bird distribution in subtropical production forests. Forest Ecology and Management 240, 24–31.
CrossRef |

Oliver, D. L. (2000). Foraging behaviour and resource selection of the Regent Honeyeater Xanthomyza phyrygia in northern New South Wales. Emu 100, 12–30.
CrossRef | CAS |

Oliver, D. L. (2001). Activity budget of the regent honeyeater, Xanthomyza phrygia, in northern New South Wales. Australian Journal of Zoology 49, 695–712.
CrossRef |

Parsons, H. , French, K. , and Major, R. E. (2003). The influence of remnant bushland on the composition of suburban bird assemblages in Australia. Landscape and Urban Planning 66, 43–56.
CrossRef |

Parsons, H. , Major, R. E. , and French, K. (2006). Species interactions and habitat associations of birds inhabiting urban areas of Sydney, Australia. Austral Ecology 31, 217–227.
CrossRef |

Paton, D. C. (1980). The importance of manna, honeydew and lerp in the diets of honeyeaters. Emu 80, 213–226.


Paton, D. C. (1982). The diet of the New Holland honeyeater, Phylidonyris novaehollandiae. Australian Journal of Ecology 7, 279–298.
CrossRef |

Piper, S. D. , and Catterall, C. P. (2003). A particular case and a general pattern: hyperaggressive behaviour by one species may mediate avifaunal decreases in fragmented Australian forests. Oikos 101, 602–614.
CrossRef |

Recher, H. F. (1999). The state of Australia’s avifauna: a personal opinion and prediction for the new millennium. Australian Zoologist 31, 11–27.


Recher H. F. (2004). The Kings Park avifauna: keeping birds in the city. In ‘Urban Wildlife: More Than Meets the Eye’. (Eds D. Lunney and S. Burgin.) pp. 8–20. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Saunders, A. S. J. , and Burgin, S. (2001). Selective foraging by Red Wattlebirds, Anthochaera carunculata, and Noisy Friarbirds, Philemon corniculatus. Emu 101, 163–166.
CrossRef |

Saunders, A. S. J. , Burgin, S. , and Jones, H. (2003). The importance of eucalypt nectar in the diet of large honeyeaters. Corella 27, 1–12.


Sewell, S. R. , and Catterall, C. P. (1998). Bushland modification and styles of urban development: their effects on birds in south-east Queensland. Wildlife Research 25, 41–63.
CrossRef |

Woinarski, J. , Cullen, J. M. , Hull, C. , and Nayudu, R. (1989). Lerp-feeding in birds: a smorgasbord experiment. Australian Journal of Ecology 14, 227–234.
CrossRef |

Zar J. (1999). ‘Biostatistical Analysis.’ (Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ.)


Export Citation Cited By (8)

View Altmetrics