Paying the extinction debt: woodland birds in the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia

Judit Szabo, P A Vesk, B W J Baxter, Hugh Possingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Approximately 90% of the original woodlands of the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia has been cleared, modified or fragmented, most severely in the last 60 years, and affecting the avifauna dependent on native vegetation. This study identifies which woodland-dependent species are still declining in two different habitats, Pink GumBlue Gum woodland and Stringybark woodland. We analyse the Mount Lofty Ranges Woodland Bird Long-Term Monitoring Dataset for 1999-2007, to look for changes in abundance of 59 species. We use logistic regression of prevalence on lists in a Bayesian framework, and List Length Analysis to control for variation in detectability. Compared with Reporting Rate Analysis, a more traditional approach, List Length Analysis provides tighter confidence intervals by accounting for changing detectability. Several common species were declining significantly. Increasers were generally large-bodied generalists. Many birds have already disappeared from this modified and naturally isolated woodland island, and our results suggest that more specialist insectivores are likely to follow. The Mount Lofty Ranges can be regarded as a 'canary landscape' for temperate woodlands elsewhere in Australia without immediate action their bird communities are likely to follow the trajectory of the Mount Lofty Ranges avifauna. Alternatively, with extensive habitat restoration and management, we could avoid paying the extinction debt. � Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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