Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Selection of breeding habitat by the endangered Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae) at two spatial scales

James Brazill-Boast A B D , Josephine K. Dessmann A C , Gareth T. O. Davies A , Sarah R. Pryke A and Simon C. Griffith A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia.

B Present address: Conservation Strategy Unit, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Landscapes and Ecosystems Conservation Branch, PO Box A290, Sydney South, NSW 1232, Australia.

C Present address: Biosis Research, 18–20 Mandible Street, Alexandria, NSW 2015, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: james.brazillboast@environment.nsw.gov.au

Emu 111(4) 304-311 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU10064
Submitted: 2 August 2010  Accepted: 21 March 2011   Published: 11 October 2011

Abstract

The Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae) has experienced significant decline in population and the extent of its range over the past 40 years, which has generally been attributed to the availability of suitable foraging habitat. Less research, however, has investigated the suitability or availability of breeding habitat of the species. Gouldian Finches are obligate cavity nesters, and a recent study has shown that they select nest-sites non-randomly based on structural characteristics of the cavity. Here we investigated the relative effects of different environmental factors on the spatial distribution of Gouldian Finch nests at two different scales. At the broader, landscape scale (over ~60 km2), the strongest predictor of nesting density at a site was the abundance of suitable nest-sites. At the finer scale (~1 km2), no single factor explained the variation in location of nest-sites. Gouldian Finches require areas of habitat characterised by high densities of suitable nest-sites (tree-cavities). Within these patches, individuals are potentially selecting nest-sites based on the morphometry of cavities rather than landscape features such as topography, vegetation or proximity to water. Our findings should be integrated with studies of feeding and habitat requirements in the non-breeding season, with the aim of constructing holistic and predictive habitat-suitability models for this endangered species.

Additional keywords: cavity nesting, conservation, habitat suitability, nest-site selection, resource limitation.


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