Habitat alteration caused by an introduced plant disease, Phytophthora cinnamomi: a potential threat to the conservation of Australian forest fauna
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M. J. Garkaklis, M.C. Calver, B.A. Wilson, G.E. St. J. Hardy, 2004. "Habitat alteration caused by an introduced plant disease, Phytophthora cinnamomi: a potential threat to the conservation of Australian forest fauna", Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna, Daniel Lunney
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While the impacts of the introduced plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi on Australian forest flora are well documented, its possible indirect impacts on fauna through changes to floristics and plant structure are less clear. We reviewed the literature on the responses of forest animal communities to the presence of Phytophthora cinnamomi, finding some evidence of declines in abundance and distribution of mammals and invertebrates. Mammals were mostly affected by reductions in shelter and food, while invertebrates probably declined because of changes in litterfall patterns. Mammal declines could in turn disrupt important ecosystem processes through reductions in burrowing and digging which are vital in soil turnover and plant propagation. Trends were less clear in birds and herpetofauna, where some authors speculated on possible impacts but there were few convincing studies. Overall, the review indicated that for a range of forest fauna serious impacts were either occurring or were plausible but not yet demonstrated. This scenario calls for a blend of precautionary and preventive measures on the part of management authorities, including quarantine, chemical control, review of fire practices and hygienic implementation of roadworks, drainage and logging. Without such precautionary and preventive management, Phytophthora cinnamomi has the potential to significantly reduce the diversity of forest fauna.