Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Do woodland birds prefer to forage in healthy Eucalyptus wandoo trees?

T. L. Moore A C , L. E. Valentine A B , M. D. Craig A , G. E. StJ. Hardy A and P. A. Fleming A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Western Australian Centre of Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

B Present address: ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: t.moore@murdoch.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 61(3) 187-195 https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO13045
Submitted: 8 February 2013  Accepted: 20 June 2013   Published: 15 July 2013

Abstract

Globally, many forests and woodlands are in decline. The marked loss of canopy foliage typical of these declines results in reduced foraging resources (e.g. nectar, pollen, and insects) and, subsequently, can reduce habitat quality for woodland birds. In south-west Western Australia, patches of Eucalyptus wandoo woodlands have shown a decline in condition since at least 2002. We investigated how changes in E. wandoo condition affect the woodland bird community. Foraging activities of three bird species were recorded for 20 sites in Dryandra State Forest and Wandoo Conservation Park either by conducting watches on focal trees (‘sitting’ method), or following individuals through the woodland (‘following’ method). Condition assessments of trees used by the birds were compared with those for trees available at the study site. Weebills (Smicrornis brevirostris; canopy insectivore) displayed preference for healthy trees (low amounts of canopy dieback), whereas rufous treecreepers (Climacteris rufa; bark-foraging insectivore) preferred trees with a higher proportion of dead branches. Yellow-plumed honeyeaters (Lichenostomus ornatus; insectivore/nectarivore) foraged in older, larger E. wandoo trees having full canopies with few signs of tree decline. Tree declines, such as that happening in E. wandoo, alter the foraging resources and habitat available to woodland birds.

Additional keywords: foraging resources, habitat, tree condition, tree decline.


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