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Hurstville Grove, Australia

Nichols P.W.B.,University of Western Sydney | Morris E.C.,University of Western Sydney | Keith D.A.,NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Austral Ecology | Year: 2010

Planning for the restoration of degraded ecosystems has a strong basis in facilitation successional theory, which, as applied in restoration practice, states that planting of structurally dominant tree species will assist the entry of other native species into a restored community. In Australia, tree planting has been widely applied in restoration of grassy woodland ecosystems. Trees have been postulated to reduce the cover and diversity of weed species, thus facilitating recolonization of native woodland species (indirect facilitation). The expected outcomes of this process include reduced species richness and abundance of exotic plant species and increased species richness and abundance/dominance of natives in areas beneath tree canopies, with these trends strengthening with time. To assess whether this was occurring, we carried out a comparative analysis of species assemblages found underneath and outside of planted tree canopies in sites replanted with juvenile canopy tree species 3-5 or 8-10 years previously. We sampled revegetated stands of Cumberland Plain Woodland, an endangered ecological community in Western Sydney, Australia. We found that neither the number nor abundance of native ground layer species beneath canopies increased as a result of trees being planted at sites of both ages. Where seed is limited, we predicted an increase in abundance of existing native species under planted tree canopies. On this point, the results were mixed and showed some natives with an increased abundance while others decreased. Exotic species richness showed the reverse of the expected pattern, being greater under tree canopies. These findings lend no support to the theory of indirect facilitation. We conclude that simple facilitation models may be inadequate to support planning of grassy woodland restoration and that those models incorporating successional time lags and restoration barriers are likely to be more informative about the development of communities initiated by tree planting. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Ecological Society of Australia.

Murphy M.J.,NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Victorian Naturalist | Year: 2011

The Pilliga Scrub is a large semi-arid woodland area in northern inland New South Wales with limited freshwater habitats and a frequent scarcity of surface water. A survey of the area's decapod crustacean fauna in 2009-2010 identified five species: the crayfsh Cherax destructor (Parastacidae), crab Austrothelphusa transversa (Parathelphusidae), shrimps Caridina mccullochi and Paratya australiensis (Atyidae) and prawn Macrobrachium australiense (Palaemonidae). Te decapod diversity is low at the species level but relatively high at the family level, and reflects the location of the Pilliga Scrub in a transitional zone between faunal assemblages of southern and northern Australia. Cherax destructor and Austrothelphusa transversa are well suited to the variable aquatic conditions in the Pilliga Scrub and can survive prolonged drought in burrows. Caridina mccullochi, Paratya australiensis and Macrobrachium australiense, in contrast, are dependent on surface water at all life cycle stages, and their survival in the Pilliga Scrub relies on the few small permanent waterholes along larger intermittent streams or, if these dry out, re-colonisation from downstream perennial river channels during occasional stream few events. An increase in aridity due to anthropogenic climate change could result in the local extinction of these three species, representing a 60% reduction in local decapod species diversity.

The Pilliga forest is the largest surviving woodland remnant in the agriculture-dominated landscape of the New South Wales inland western slopes and this study describes the area's contribution to supporting shorebird communities in Australia. Key shorebird habitats in the Pilliga forest area include ephemeral wetlands and dry woodlands as well as dry farmland and ground tanks. Sixty diurnal surveys in the Pilliga forest over a 22 month period in 2011-2013 recorded four resident shorebirds, Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius, Black-fronted Dotterel Elseyornis melanops, Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles and Banded Lapwing Vanellus tricolor, one migratory shorebird, Latham's Snipe Gallinago hardwickii, and two nomadic shorebirds, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus. A review of data from secondary sources identified records of another two nomadic shorebirds, Australian Painted Snipe Rostratula australis (in 2003) and Australian Pratincole Stiltia isabella (in 1981). The nomadic Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae has also been recorded nearby (in 1992 and 1993) and may occasionally occur in the Pilliga forest.

The widespread Common Dunnart Sminthopsis murina is typically only infrequently found during trapping studies. Pitfall trapping is generally considered a more reliable trapping method for dunnarts than Elliott-type box traps, but is often time consuming and labour-intensive. This short paper documents incidental records of S. murina detected using artificial shelter objects established during herpetofauna surveys in the Pilliga forest, in northern inland New South Wales, and discusses the potential value of this survey technique as a complement to conventional trapping methods when conducting surveys for dunnarts.

Murphy M.J.,NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Stilt | Year: 2015

The New South Wales (NSW) Central Coast in south-eastern Australia has valuable habitats for shorebirds but also has a large and rapidly increasing human urban population. Low tide and high tide surveys at three proximate intertidal coastal rock platforms in the Norah Head area in 2013- 2014 identified nine species of migratory shorebirds and four species of Australian resident shorebirds. Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis, Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres and Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea were the most common species. Records of four additional shorebird species (three migratory and one Australian resident) dating from the period 1997-2015 were obtained from secondary sources. The total recorded shorebird community of the Norah Head rock platforms comprises 17 species, of which eight are considered regular visitors and nine are vagrant or occasional visitors. Human recreational use of these rock platforms was assessed. There appeared to be a negative relationship between the average level of human activity on each rock platform and both the diversity and number of shorebirds recorded there. It is proposed that differences in local-scale physical attributes and local context of the rock platforms, such as accessibility over the tidal cycle and walking distance from public vehicle access, influence the level of human activity and, in turn, affect the level of shorebird usage. This study illustrates the noteworthy habitat value of coastal rock platforms on the NSW Central Coast and the likely influence of anthropogenic disturbance levels on shorebird use of this habitat. © AWSG.

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