A summer and winter’s tale: factors influencing avian community composition and species abundances in lowland subtropical floodplain forests in central eastern Australia

Mark Fitzgerald, Simon Gorta, Robert M. Kooyman*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    The ecology of avian community assembly in subtropical climate areas with seasonal and year-to-year variability is complex and poorly understood. To test for variation in year–year and seasonal (summer–winter) avian community composition and species abundances, we established 10 transects (200 m long) and sampled twice yearly for 7 years. To differentiate year–year and seasonal (summer–winter) patterns from the potential disturbance effects caused by human activities associated with music festivals (events), we monitored community composition and species abundances on sites close to disturbance areas (impact) and sites distant from disturbances (control). Impacts from large scale music events included loud noise, and thousands of vehicle and people movements on a daily basis. Raw count, abundance-weighted, and feeding guild data were analysed using multivariate and univariate methods. Seasonal (summer–winter) patterns of food resource availability in dominant forest trees (fruit and nectar resources) were identified. We found strong signals for the influence of seasonality and seasonal resource availability on community composition and feeding guild representation (nectivores and frugivores). We detected somewhat weaker effects for location relative to disturbance (control vs impact) and weak effects for sample timing associated with disturbance from the events. Avian community composition showed high similarity between control and impact sites, was dynamic in space and time (year to year) and showed strong local and regional trends in response to seasonality. Avian species abundances were greater in less disturbed (control) forest habitats, highlighting the fundamental value of conservation reserves in protecting higher quality avian habitats.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    JournalPacific Conservation Biology
    Early online date9 Jul 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Publisher 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

    Keywords

    • avian community assembly
    • human activity
    • lowland subtropical forest
    • multivariate generalised linear models
    • seasonal resources
    • time-series
    • feeding guilds

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