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Habitat amount and quality, not patch size, determine persistence of a woodland-dependent mammal in an agricultural landscape

Citation

Gardiner, R and Bain, G and Hamer, R and Jones, ME and Johnson, CN, Habitat amount and quality, not patch size, determine persistence of a woodland-dependent mammal in an agricultural landscape, Landscape Ecology, 33, (11) pp. 1837-1849. ISSN 0921-2973 (2018) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1007/s10980-018-0722-0

Abstract

Context: The classical theory of island biogeography explains loss of species in fragmented landscapes as an effect of remnant patch size and isolation. Recently this has been challenged by the habitat amount and habitat continuum hypotheses, according to which persistence in modified landscapes is related to total habitat amount rather than habitat configuration or the ability of species to use all habitats to varying degrees. Distinguishing between these theories is essential for effective conservation planning in modified landscapes.

Objective: Identify which factors of habitat type, amount and configuration predict the persistence of a keystone woodland specialist, the eastern bettong Bettongia gaimardi, in a fragmented landscape.

Method: In the Midlands region of Tasmania we carried out camera surveys at 62 sites in summer and winter. We included habitat and landscape features to model whether habitat amount or patch size and isolation influenced the presence of the eastern bettong, and to measure effects of habitat quality.

Results: Habitat amount within a 1 km buffer was a better predictor of occupancy than patch size and isolation. Occupancy was also affected by habitat quality, indicated by density of regenerating stems.

Conclusion: Our results support the habitat amount hypothesis as a better predictor of presence. For a species that is able to cross the matrix between remnant patches and utilise multiple patches, the island biogeography concept does not explain habitat use in fragmented landscapes. Our results emphasize the value of small remnant patches for conservation of the eastern bettong, provided those patches are in good condition.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fragmentation, habitat amount, hypothesis, occupancy, Eastern bettong, habitat quality, wildlife, conservation, agricultural landscape
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial Ecology
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Objective Field:Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
UTAS Author:Gardiner, R (Ms Riana Gardiner)
UTAS Author:Bain, G (Mr Glen Bain)
UTAS Author:Hamer, R (Miss Rowena Hamer)
UTAS Author:Jones, ME (Associate Professor Menna Jones)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:130295
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP130100949)
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2019-01-18
Last Modified:2019-01-18
Downloads:0

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