Effects of mistletoe on diversity: a case-study from southern New South Wales

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The influence of mistletoe density on avian diversity has been noted previously, with several studies demonstrating a close positive relationship between the two variables. All previous work has been correlative, exploiting naturally occurring variation in mistletoe density, and hence unable to demonstrate a causative link between mistletoe density and avian richness. Here I compare the avifauna of two adjacent woodland remnants, one of which has had most mistletoe plants removed, but otherwise comparable in area, vegetation and grazing history. Ten-hour inventories were conducted in each remnant in both spring and summer, resulting in a total of 40 hours of censuses. Of the 71 species recorded overall, 52 were recorded from the treatment site (with reduced mistletoe density) and 61 species from the control site. Significantly more woodland-dependent species and species known to feed on mistletoe were recorded in the control site, while there was no significant difference for those species known to nest in mistletoe. These results broadly support the idea that mistletoe is a keystone resource, with mistletoe density having a significant positive effect on species richness. These findings reinforce previous correlative studies, and further highlight the importance of mistletoe in Australian woodlands and forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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