Assessing the value of restoration plantings for wildlife in a temperate agricultural landscape
Kittipalawattanapol, K and Jones, ME and Barmuta, LA and Bain, G, Assessing the value of restoration plantings for wildlife in a temperate agricultural landscape, Restoration Ecology Article 13470. ISSN 1061-2971 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Habitat loss is a primary cause of population decline for 85% of species recognized as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Ecological restoration can mitigate and reverse the effects of habitat loss on wildlife, but many restoration programs lack a systematic approach to monitoring outcomes, if indeed restoration sites are monitored at all. Here, we evaluate the response of wildlife to restoration plantings in an agricultural landscape in Tasmania, Australia, five years after their establishment. We surveyed three faunal groups—ground-dwelling invertebrates, birds and terrestrial mammals—and compared community composition in plantings with those of nearby livestock pasture and remnant woodlands. Habitat type had some influence on invertebrate communities with more pollinators, but fewer nectivores (predominantly Lepidoptera) and engulf predators in riparian plantings than in paddocks. In comparison, nonriparian plantings had more nectivores and pollinators and a greater proportion of small-bodied invertebrates than in paddocks. Invertebrate biomass was positively associated with the presence of large ground-foraging birds. Habitat type had a significant effect on the composition of bird communities in nonriparian areas, with small native species more abundant in plantings than in paddocks. Endangered mammal species were recorded using planting sites, including eastern bettongs and spotted-tailed quolls. We describe possible trajectories to inform adaptive management of local restoration efforts. Our study provides a rare example that considers the response of multiple faunal groups to restoration concurrently and highlights differences in wildlife communities between restoring and reference habitats that are likely to impact ecosystem services.