Conservation Biology

Shaped by your surroundings

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Science  15 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6236, pp. 769
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6236.769-a

Larger birds, such as this white-plumed honeyeater, decline in Australian woodlands surrounded by maturing pine plantations

PHOTO: © FLPA/ALAMY

Humans are fragmenting natural habitats into relatively pristine patches surrounded by a larger altered landscape patchwork, or matrix. The nature of this matrix can influence which species in the remaining intact habitat will persist. Mortelliti and Lindenmayer report on a large, long-term experiment that measured the impact of landscape change on 64 species of birds found within fragmented native Eucalyptus woodlands in Australia. They found that though overall species richness did not change, emerging pine plantations altered communities, favoring smaller birds that move easily through dense vegetation but reducing the presence of larger species. These results suggest that matrix vegetation types can shape selection in such a way that species and communities within native landscape patches are permanently changed.

Conserv. Biol. 10.1111/cobi.12523 (2015).

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