Linear habitats in rural landscapes have complementary roles in bird conservation

Mark Hall, Dale Nimmo, Simon Watson, Andrew F. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Linear strips of vegetation (e.g., hedges, roadsides) are characteristic of rural environments worldwide. Different types of linear features have distinct structure and landscape context, suggesting they each may offer unique opportunities for conservation in modified landscapes. We compared the avifauna of 76 streamside (riparian) sites and 33 sites in roadside vegetation—two distinctive types of linear features of rural landscapes in southern Australia. There was a marked difference in the composition of the avifauna between these linear features, reflecting their individual context within the landscape. For all response groups—woodland bird species, non-woodland species, waterbirds—riparian vegetation supported a greater species richness per site, and greater cumulative richness across multiple sites, than did roadside vegetation. For woodland species, the assemblage of greatest conservation concern, richness in both riparian and roadside sites increased with increasing width, and decreased with increasing abundance of an aggressive avian competitor. The ubiquity of linear features worldwide means that measures that enhance their conservation value will have widespread benefits. Our results demonstrate that: (1) linear features offer habitat for a broad range of species in rural environments; (2) by supporting distinct assemblages, different types of linear features have complementary roles in nature conservation; (3) wider linear features have a positive influence on species that require vegetated cover; and (4) the fauna of linear features are vulnerable to biotic influences, in this case a native avian competitor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2605-2623
Number of pages19
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number10
Early online date04 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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