• Birds;
  • city parks;
  • science-based management;
  • scattered trees;
  • southeastern Australia;
  • tree preservation;
  • urban biodiversity;
  • urban conservation policy;
  • urban ecology;
  • urban forest


Large trees are considered keystone structures in agricultural and forestry production landscapes, but research demonstrating this in urban landscapes is urgently needed. If large trees are keystone structures in urban parks, it is imperative that this is recognized in policy to ensure their ongoing existence. We studied the role of large native trees for birds in urban parks in Canberra, Australia. We found that (1) large trees had a consistent, strong, and positive relationship with five measures of bird diversity, and (2) as trees became larger in size, their positive effect on bird diversity increased. Large urban trees are therefore keystone structures that provide crucial habitat resources for wildlife. Hence, it is vital that they are managed appropriately. With evidence-based tree preservation policies that recognize biodiversity values, and proactive planning for future large trees, the protection and perpetuation of these important keystone structures can be achieved.