Does Internal Forest Fragmentation from Linear Infrastructure affect Core Habitat for Woodland Birds?
Habitat loss and fragmentation are two of the greatest threats to biodiversity. In addition to direct impacts they can facilitate secondary impacts through, for example, increased competition for resources.
Coal seam gas mining is creating an extensive network of linear clearings in eastern Australia, including through previously intact native forest patches. These clearings increase fragmentation and create new internal forest edges. The extent to which this form of habitat modification will affect woodland birds is unknown.
Along with the potential for reduced movement and resources, one effect of coal seam gas development could be the incursion/proliferation of the noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala), an Australian honeyeater known to prefer forest edges and open environments. The noisy miner competes with woodland birds by colonizing territories and using aggressive behaviour to exclude other species from an area. This process is now recognised under national environmental legislation as a Key Threatening Process. Were proliferation of the noisy miner to occur there could be significant impacts to already declining woodland birds within their core populations.
This project will examine the effects of linear coal seam gas development on woodland bird assemblages in core forest habitat, including likelihood of increased interactions with the hyper-aggressive noisy miner.
Funding: Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)