Loss and fragmentation of the native vegetation of the Central Western Plains of New South Wales was followed by declines of woodland-dependent species. Drought is likely to have further suppressed many animal populations. Here we report on changes in woodland bird reporting rates between surveys in 2005-2009 (drought declared period) and surveys in 2010-2013 following the drought-breaking rains of 2010. By 2013 the number of species detected per survey had just recovered to the level of surveys in 2005/6. The 2013 species composition of the region was similar to that recorded in the 2005-2009 drought surveys, with half of the small insectivorous and nectarivorous woodland birds remaining rare and restricted. Woodland remnants in the landscape continued to be dominated by the same, usually large, species of birds, but reporting rates of 13 of the 15 most common species declined. Conversely, several smaller, foliage gleaning passerines had higher reporting rates post-drought, with Striated Pardalote and Western Gerygone becoming two of the most frequently recorded species. Taxonomic and life history attributes usually did not predict population changes for species post-drought, with the only feeding guild showing a consistent trend being the mistletoe specialists, with only two species. Even after the drought-breaking rains of 2010, there appears to be a reduced vigour in these woodland landscapes.
After the 2010 rains: changes in reporting rates of birds in remnant woodland vegetation in the central wheatbelt of New South Wales, Australia, from drought to post-drought
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Murray Ellis, Jennifer Taylor; After the 2010 rains: changes in reporting rates of birds in remnant woodland vegetation in the central wheatbelt of New South Wales, Australia, from drought to post-drought. Australian Zoologist 1 January 2014; 37 (1): 29–39. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2014.007
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