Differences in the reproductive success and survival of the Rufous Treecreeper(Climacteris rufa) between a fragmented and unfragmented landscape

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Abstract

The rufous treecreeper (Climacteris rufa) has declined in abundance in the agricultural regions of southwestern Australia. The patterns of decline are well documented, but the processes that threaten population persistence are poorly understood. I compared the reproductive success and survival of the treecreeper between three sites in an unfragmented landscape and four remnant categories (large, small, grazed and ungrazed) in a fragmented, agricultural landscape. Nest success and annual productivity were significantly higher in the unfragmented landscape, but varied between sites and remnant categories within landscapes. Nest success was lowest in grazed remnants and annual productivity was positively associated with territory size in the fragmented landscape. Fledgling survival rates did not differ between landscapes, but there was a trend for juvenile survival rates to be higher in the unfragmented landscape. I used artificial nests to compare relative predation rates between landscapes, and provisioning rates and prey biomass brought to nestlings to assess differences in food availability. There were no landscape differences in predation rates, but provisioning rates to nestlings and total prey biomass were significantly lower in the fragmented landscape. Mean habitat quality was also lower in the fragmented landscape, although it differed between remnant categories. Reduced reproductive success, juvenile survival, food availability and habitat quality may threaten the viability of the rufous treecreeper population living in the fragmented landscape. Limiting the modification of remaining habitat (e.g. removing stock grazing) and improving habitat quality are required to assist in the conservation of this species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume109
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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