Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Landscapes, ecology and wildlife management in highly modified environments – an Australian perspective

Richard J. Hobbs

School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

Wildlife Research 32(5) 389-398 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR03037
Submitted: 6 May 2003  Accepted: 26 May 2005   Published: 8 August 2005


Landscapes in southern Australia have been extensively modified by a variety of human activities, predominantly agriculture and urban development. Over much of the area, native vegetation has been replaced with agriculture or buildings and infrastructure. A continuum exists from areas that remain largely intact, but are modified in some way (e.g. forests managed for timber production), to areas where the remaining native vegetation is fragmented to varying degrees. Habitat management will vary across this continuum, depending on the degree of habitat loss and isolation. In areas outside the main zones of agricultural and urban development, the process of habitat loss and fragmentation is less in evidence. Here, instead, the landscapes remain apparently structurally intact, in that the native vegetation is not actually removed. However, these landscapes have also, in many cases, been significantly modified, particularly by pastoralism and related activities, to the extent that their value as habitat is impaired. Declining habitat value in northern landscapes may lead to the same types of functional fragmentation as found in the south. An examination of the differences and similarities between southern and northern landscapes can highlight what can be learned from the southern experience which may be of value in savanna landscapes. In both cases, the importance of considering impacts in relation to species-specific responses needs to be emphasised.


Allan G. E., and Southgate R. I. (2002). Fire regimes in the spinifex landscapes of Australia. In ‘Flammable Australia: The Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent’. (Eds R. Bradstock, J. Williams and M. Gill.) pp. 145–176. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.)

Bennett A. F. (1999). ‘Linkages in the Landscape: The Role of Corridors and Connectivity in Wildlife Conservation.’ (IUCN: Gland, Switzerland.)

Brooker L. Brooker M. Cale P. 1999 Animal dispersal in fragmented habitat: measuring habitat connectivity, corridor use, and dispersal mortality. Conservation Ecology 3 4

Burvill G. H. (Ed.) (1979). ‘Agriculture in Western Australia 1829–1979.’ (University of Western Australia Press: Perth.)

Cale P. Hobbs R. J. 1994 Landscape heterogeneity indices: problems of scale and applicability, with particular reference to animal habitat description. Pacific Conservation Biology 1 183 193

Cramer V. A. Hobbs R. J. 2002 Ecological consequences of altered hydrological regimes in fragmented ecosystems in southern Australia: impacts and possible management responses. Austral Ecology 27 546 564

Davies K. F. (1999). The responses of beetles to experimental forest fragmentation. Ph.D. Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.

Davies K. F., Gascon C., and Margules C. R. (2001). Habitat fragmentation: consequences, management and future research priorities. In ‘Conservation Biology: Research Priorities for the Next Decade’. (Eds M. E. Soulé and G. H. Orians.) pp. 81–97. (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

Dawson D. (1994). ‘Are Habitat Corridors Conduits for Animals and Plants in a Fragmented Landscape? A Review of the Scientific Evidence.’ (English Nature: London.)

Dilworth R. Gowdie T. Rowley T. 2000 Living Landscapes: the future landscapes of the Western Australian wheatbelt? Ecological Management & Restoration 1 165 174 DOI

Forman R. T. T. (1995). ‘Land Mosaics. The Ecology of Landscapes and Regions.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.)

George R. J., McFarlane D. J., and Speed R. J. (1995). The consequences of a changing hydrologic environment for native vegetation in south Western Australia. In ‘Nature Conservation 4: The Role of Networks’. (Eds D. A. Saunders, J. L. Craig and E. M. Mattiske.) pp. 9–22. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Hanski I. A., and Gilpin M. E. (Eds) (1997). ‘Metapopulation Biology: Ecology, Genetics, and Evolution.’ (Academic Press: New York.)

Harrison S., and Fahrig L. (1995). Landscape pattern and population conservation. In ‘Mosaic Landscapes and Ecological Processes’. (Eds L. Hansson, L. Fahrig and G. Merriam.) pp. 293–307. (Chapman and Hall: London.)

Hobbs R. J. 1992 a The role of corridors in conservation: solution or bandwagon? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 7 389 392 DOI

Hobbs R. J. (1992b). Function of biodiversity in Mediterreanean ecosystems in Australia: definitions and background. In ‘Biodiversity in Mediterranean Ecosystems in Australia’. (Ed. R. J. Hobbs.) pp. 1–25. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Hobbs R. J. 1993 a Can revegetation assist in the conservation of biodiversity in agricultural areas? Pacific Conservation Biology 1 29 38

Hobbs R. J. 1993 b Effects of landscape fragmentation on ecosystem processes in the Western Australian wheatbelt. Biological Conservation 64 193 201

Hobbs R. J. (1994). Fragmentation in the wheatbelt of Western Australia: landscape scale problems and solutions. In ‘Fragmentation in Agricultural Landscapes’. (Ed. J. Dover.) pp. 3–20. (IALE: Garstang, UK.)

Hobbs R. J. (1998a). Impacts of land use on biodiversity in southwestern Australia. In ‘Landscape Degradation in Mediterranean-type Ecosystems’. (Eds P. W. Rundel, G. Montenegro and F. Jaksic.) pp. 81–106. (Springer Verlag: New York.)

Hobbs R. J. (1998b). Managing ecological systems and processes. In ‘Ecological Scale: Theory and Applications’. (Eds D. Peterson and V. T. Parker.) pp. 459–484. (Columbia University Press: New York.)

Hobbs R. J. 2001 Synergisms among habitat fragmentation, livestock grazing, and biotic invasions in southwestern Australia. Conservation Biology 15 1522 1528 DOI

Hobbs R. J. Harris J. A. 2001 Restoration ecology: repairing the Earth’s ecosystems in the new millenium. Restoration Ecology 9 239 246 DOI

Hobbs R. J. Hopkins A. J. M. 1990 From frontier to fragments: European impact on Australia’s vegetation. Proceedings of the Ecological Society of Australia 16 93 114

Hobbs R. J. Kristjanson L. J. 2003 Triage: how do we prioritize healthcare for landscapes? Ecological Management & Restoration 4 S39 S45

Hobbs R. J. Mooney H. A. 1998 Broadening the extinction debate – population deletions and additions in California and Western Australia. Conservation Biology 12 271 283 DOI

Hobbs R. J., Saunders D. A., Lobry de Bruyn L. A., and Main A. R. (1993). Changes in biota. In ‘Reintegrating Fragmented Landscapes. Towards Sustainable Production and Nature Conservation’. (Eds R. J. Hobbs and D. A. Saunders.) pp. 65–106. (Springer-Verlag: New York.)

Hobbs R. J., and Wilson A.-M. (1998). Corridors: theory, practice and the achievement of conservation objectives. In ‘Key Concepts in Landscape Ecology’. (Eds J. W. Dover and R. G. H. Bunce.) pp. 265–279. (IALE: Preston, UK.)

Hobbs R. J. Catling P. C. Wombey J. C. Clayton M. Atkins L. Reid A. 2003 Faunal use of bluegum (Eucalyptus globulus) plantations in southwestern Australia. Agroforestry Systems 58 195 212 DOI

James C. D. Landsberg J. Morton S. R. 1999 Provision of watering points in the Australian arid zone: a review of effects on biota. Journal of Arid Environments 41 87 121 DOI

Kolasa J., and Waltho N. (1998). A hierarchical view of habitat and its relationship to species abundance. In ‘Ecological Scale: Theory and Applications’. (Eds D. Peterson and V. T. Parker.) pp. 55–76. (Columbia University Press: New York.)

Kristjanson L. J. Hobbs R. J. 2001 Degrading landscapes: lessons from palliative care. Ecosystem Health 7 203 213 DOI

Lambeck R. J. 1997 Focal species: a multi-species umbrella for nature conservation. Conservation Biology 11 849 856 DOI

Lambeck R. J., and Hobbs R. J. (2002). Landscape planning for conservation. In ‘Concepts and Applications of Landscape Ecology in Biological Conservation’. (Ed. K. Gutzwiller.) pp. 360–380. (Springer Verlag: New York.)

Landsberg J., James C. D., Morton S. R., Hobbs T. J., Stol J., Drew A., and Tongway H. (1999). ‘The Effects of Artificial Sources of Water on Rangeland Biodiversity.’ (CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology & Environment Australia: Canberra.)

Laurance W. F., and Bierregaard R. O. (Eds) (1997). ‘Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Conservation and Management of Fragmented Communities.’ (University of Chicago Press: Chicago.)

Laurance W. F. Gascon C. 1997 How to creatively fragment a landscape. Conservation Biology 11 577 579 DOI

Lindenmayer D. B. Manning A. D. Smith P. L. Possingham H. P. Fischer J. Oliver I. McCarthy M. A. 2002 The focal species approach and landscape restoration: a critique. Conservation Biology 16 338 345 DOI

Ludwig J. A. Tongway D. J. 1995 Spatial organisation of landscapes and its function in semi-arid woodlands, Australia. Landscape Ecology 10 51 63 DOI

Ludwig J. A. Tongway D. J. 1996 Rehabilitation of semi-arid landscapes in Australia. II. Restoring vegetation patches. Restoration Ecology 4 398 406

Ludwig J., Tongway D., Freudenberger D., Noble J., and Hodgkinson K. (Eds) (1997). ‘Landscape Ecology, Function and Management: Principles from Australia’s Rangelands.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Main B. Y. (1993). Social history and impact on landscape. In ‘Reintegrating Fragmented Landscapes. Towards Sustainable Production and Nature Conservation’. (Eds R. J. Hobbs and D. A. Saunders.) pp. 23–58. (Springer-Verlag: New York.)

McCulloch D. R. (Ed.) (1996). ‘Metapopulations and Wildlife Conservation.’ (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

McIntyre S. Barrett G. W. 1992 Habitat variegation, an alternative to fragmentation. Conservation Biology 6 146 147

McIntyre S. Hobbs R. J. 1999 A framework for conceptualizing human impacts on landscapes and its relevance to management and research. Conservation Biology 13 1282 1292 DOI

McIntyre S., and Hobbs R. J. (2000). Human impacts on landscapes: matrix condition and management priorities. In ‘Nature Conservation 5: Nature Conservation in Production Environments’. (Eds J. Craig, D. A. Saunders and N. Mitchell.) pp. 301–307. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Morton S. R. 1990 The impact of European settlement on the vertebrate animals of arid Australia: a conceptual model. Proceedings of the Ecological Society of Australia 16 201 213

Morton S. R. Stafford Smith D. M. Friedel M. H. Griffin G. F. Pickup G. 1995 The stewardship of arid Australia; ecology and landscape management. Journal of Environmental Management 43 195 217

Noble J. C., and Grice A. C. (2002). Fire regimes in semi-arid and tropical pastoral lands: managing biological diversity and ecosystem function. In ‘Flammable Australia: The Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent’. (Eds R. Bradstock, J. Williams and M. Gill.) pp. 373–400. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.)

Pearson S. M., Turner M. G., Gardner R. H., and O’Neill R. V. (1996). An organism-based perspective of habitat fragmentation. In ‘Biodiversity in Managed Landscapes: Theory and Practice’. (Eds R. C. Szaro and D. W. Johnston.) pp. 77–95. (Oxford University Press: New York.)

Pinder A. M. Halse S. A. Shiel R. J. McRae J. M. 2000 Granite outcrop pools in south-western Australia: foci of diversification and refugia for aquatic invertebrates. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 83 149 161

Rippey M. E. Hobbs R. J. 2003 The effects of fire and quokkas (Setonix brachyurus) on the vegetation of Rottnest Island, off Perth, Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 86 49 60

Saunders D. A. Curry P. J. 1990 The impact of agricultural and pastoral industries on birds in the southern half of Western Australia: past, present and future. Proceedings of the Ecological Society of Australia 16 303 321

Saunders D. A., and Ingram J. (1995). ‘Birds of Southwestern Australia. An Atlas of Changes in the Distribution and Abundance of the Wheatbelt Fauna.’ (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Saunders D. A., and Ingram J. A. (1987). Factors affecting survival of breeding populations of Carnaby’s cockatoo Calyptorynchus funereus latirostris in remnants of native vegetation. In ‘Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation’. (Eds D. A. Saunders, G. W. Arnold, A. A. Burbridge and A. J. M. Hopkins.) pp. 249–58. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Saunders D. A. Hobbs R. J. Margules C. R. 1991 Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: a review. Conservation Biology 5 18 32

Saunders D. A. Hobbs R. J. Arnold G. W. 1993 The Kellerberrin project on fragmented landscapes: a review of current information. Biological Conservation 64 185 192

Schafer C. L. (1990). ‘Nature Reserves. Island Theory and Conservation Practice.’ (Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, DC.)

Schwartz M. W. (Ed.) (1997). ‘Conservation in Highly Fragmented Landscapes.’ (Chapman and Hall: New York.)

Stafford Smith D. M. Morton S. R. 1990 A framework for the ecology of arid Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 18 255 278

Taylor P. D. Fahrig L. Henein K. Merriam G. 1993 Connectivity as a vital element of landscape structure. Oikos 68 571 573

Tongway D. J. 1990 Soil and landscape processes in the restoration of rangelands. Australian Rangelands Journal 12 54 57

Tongway D. J. Ludwig J. A. 1996 Rehabilitation of semi-arid landscapes in Australia. I. Restoring productive soil patches. Restoration Ecology 4 388 397

Wallace K. J. (Ed.) (1998). Dongolocking pilot planning project for remnant vegetation. Final Report (Phase 1). Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

Wallace K. J. 2003 Confusing means with ends: a manager’s reflections on experience in agricultural landscapes of Western Australia. Ecological Management & Restoration 4 23 28

Wiens J. A. (1996). Wildlife in patchy environments: metapopulations, mosaics, and management. In ‘Metapopulations and Wildlife Conservation’. (Ed. D. R. McCulloch.) pp. 53–84. (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

Wiens J. A. (1997). Metapopulation dynamics and landscape ecology. In ‘Metapopulation Biology: Ecology, Genetics, and Evolution’. (Eds I. A. Hanski and M. E. Gilpin.) pp. 43–62. (Academic Press: New York.)

Williams R. J., Griffiths A. D., and Allan G. E. (2002). Fire regimes and biodiversity in the savannas of northern Australia. In ‘Flammable Australia: The Fire Regimes and Biodiversity of a Continent’. (Eds R. Bradstock, J. Williams and M. Gill.) pp. 281–304. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.)

Wilson A.-M., and Lindenmayer D. (1996). ‘Wildlife Corridors and the Conservation of Biodiversity: A Review.’ (Greening Australia Ltd: Canberra.)

With K. A. 1997 The application of neutral landscape models in conservation biology. Conservation Biology 11 1069 1080 DOI

With K. A. Crist T. O. 1995 Critical thresholds in species’ responses to landscape structure. Ecology 76 2446 2459

Withers P. C. 2000 Overview of granite outcrops in Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 83 103 108

Woinarski J. C. Z. Ash A. J. 2002 Responses of vertebrates to pastoralism, military land use and landscape position in an Australian tropical savanna. Austral Ecology 27 311 323

Woinarski J. C. Z. Andersen A. N. Churchill T. B. Ash A. J. 2002 Response of ant and terrestrial spider assemblages to pastoral and military land use, and to landscape position, in a tropical savanna woodland in northern Australia. Austral Ecology 27 324 333 DOI

Woinarski J. C. Z. Williams R. J. Price O. Rankmore B. 2005 Landscapes without boundaries: wildlife and their environments in northern Australia. Wildlife Research 32 377 388

Export Citation