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Keywords:

  • grazing;
  • habitat selection;
  • noisy miner;
  • road;
  • selective logging

Abstract

The impact of forest management on diurnal bird assemblages and abundance was investigated in contiguous tracts of eucalypt forest in the Brigalow Belt Bioregion, south central Queensland. Sites were located across three levels of livestock grazing intensity and three levels of selective logging intensity within the most extensive habitat type, Corymbia citriodora-dominant forest. We recorded a high rate of incidence and large numbers of the hyper-aggressive noisy miner Manorina melanocephala (Passeriformes: Meliphagidae) at the majority of our survey sites, a phenomenon rarely reported in non-cleared landscapes. As shown by numerous studies in fragmented landscapes, the distribution of this species in our study had a substantial negative effect upon the distribution of small passerine species. Noisy miners exerted the strongest influence upon small passerine abundance, and masked any forest management effects. However, key habitat features important for small passerines were identified, including a relatively high density of large trees and stems in the midstorey. Selective logging appeared to exert a minimal effect upon noisy miner abundance, whereas grazing intensity had a profound, positive influence. Noisy miners were most abundant in intensively grazed forest with minimal midstorey and a low volume of coarse woody debris. Higher road density in the forest landscape also corresponded with increased numbers of noisy miners. Reduction in grazing pressure in Brigalow Belt forests has the potential to benefit small passerine assemblages across large areas through moderating noisy miner abundance. The strong relationship between noisy miners and small passerines suggests that noisy miner abundance could act as an easily measured indicator of forest condition, potentially contributing to monitoring of forest management outcomes.