The bird communities of dry rainforests and surrounding woodlands in north Queensland
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Jacqueline Coughlan, Richard G. Pearson, 2004. "The bird communities of dry rainforests and surrounding woodlands in north Queensland", Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna, Daniel Lunney
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Dry rainforest occurs throughout the wet-dry tropics as isolated patches in a matrix of savanna woodland. Dry rainforests may provide important stepping stones for migrating forest birds, resources for woodland birds, and a significant component of bird diversity in arid inland landscapes. Dry rainforest patches may provide both refuge from harsh environmental conditions and pulses of valuable resources not available in the less productive eucalypt woodland.
We investigated patterns of bird community composition and resource use in dry rainforest patches and adjacent eucalypt woodland in north Queensland. A preliminary aim was to describe the dry rainforest bird community and to then to assess the role of dry rainforest in the landscape, particularly to woodland birds.
Dry rainforest patches were found to have a distinctive bird community that rarely utilised resources in the surrounding eucalypt woodland. Thirteen bird species were characteristic of dry rainforest. Six of these were only ever recorded in dry rainforest. Woodland birds foraged in the dry rainforest, particularly during sporadic fruiting events. Bird density and species richness was higher in woodlands than dry rainforest.
Dry rainforest has a naturally patchy distribution and constitutes only 7% of the vegetation of the study region. The presence of this rainforest vegetation might buffer woodland vegetation from the long-term effects of drought by allowing the survival of bird pollinators during times of very low productivity in woodlands. Dry rainforests may also provide a refuge from fire, and resources immediately after fire when woodlands are burnt. If this unique vegetation type is to be conserved, active management is required to mitigate threats such as damage from cattle and feral pigs, weed invasion, fire and clearing.