Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Beyond the ‘woody remnant’ paradigm in conservation of woodland birds: habitat requirements of the Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata cucullata)

Steven D. Priday
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PO Box 250, Geebung, Qld 4034, Australia. Email: steve.priday@bigpond.com

Emu 110(2) 118-124 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU09051
Submitted: 12 June 2009  Accepted: 21 December 2009   Published: 18 May 2010


Declines in populations of woodland birds in southern Australia have generally been attributed to historical and ongoing reductions in the area of tree cover and increasing fragmentation of timbered remnants. The extent of native grassy ground cover has received much less attention in studies of fragmentation despite the fact that a large proportion of declining woodland bird species forage predominantly within this stratum. In this study, records of the south-eastern subspecies of the Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata cucullata), a subspecies formally recognised as threatened in New South Wales, were examined in relation to vegetation structure and configuration in the NSW South Western Slopes Bioregion. Logistic regression models were constructed using a presence–absence dataset derived from Atlas of NSW Wildlife records and recent bird surveys and a small number of variables representing broad categories of native vegetation cover, including grassy ground cover. The models indicate a positive association between the presence of the Hooded Robin and the edges of open vegetation dominated by ungrazed or lightly grazed grassy ground cover in which species of native perennial tussock-grass predominate, adjoining timbered native vegetation cover, on moderately deep to deep soils. The study highlights the need to account for the range of vegetation types and conditions in variegated landscapes when investigating the habitat requirements of declining woodland birds, rather than relying on a simple binary ‘woody/non-woody’ classification.

Additional keywords: edge species, remote sensing, variegated landscape.


The NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water provided access to Atlas of NSW Wildlife records and unpublished records of bird surveys from the SWSB. Anthony Overs is thanked for his part in conceiving the study. The assistance of George Story, Dan Schmidt and Lesley Gibson is greatly appreciated. The use of the script prepared by Michael Scroggie is also greatly appreciated.


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