A protocol for classifying regional dynamics, exemplified by using woodland birds in southeastern Australia



Abstract Communities of forest and woodland birds are usually studied intensively at only one or a few locations. This provides a perspective that perhaps emphasizes local phenomena at the expense of placing local dynamics in the context of processes operating at the landscape or regional scale. The present paper seeks to redress partially this imbalance by studying the dynamics of individual bird species among several habitat types (all Eucalyptus-dominated forests or woodlands) over the annual cycle. This regional-scale (250km), continental study reveals that species exhibit idiosyncratic dynamics of various kinds: restricted or more ubiquitous occupation of habitats and three forms of seasonal dynamics at the regional scale (resident, migrant and itinerant). By using this classificatory scheme, it becomes evident that the bird communities found in different habitats consist of diverse collections of strategists and that the level of diversity differs among habitat types. The difficulties that many field workers have had in reconciling their observations with community theory most likely reflect the underlying dynamism of bird communities, especially in the temperate regions on continents where seasonal fluxes are pronounced.