Evidence that creation of a Pinus radiata plantation in south-eastern Australia has reduced habitat for frogs

Kirsten M. Parris*, David B. Lindenmayer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Loss and fragmentation of habitat resulting from the clearing of forests for agriculture and urban development threaten the persistence of thousands of species worldwide. The clearing of native forest to plant a monoculture of exotic trees may also reduce and fragment the habitat available for indigenous plants and animals. Metacommunity theory suggests that the species richness of a community in a patch of habitat will increase with patch size but decrease with patch isolation. We investigated whether replacement of native Eucalyptus forest with a plantation of Pinus radiata has reduced and fragmented habitat for frogs, leading to a lower species richness of frog communities in the pine plantation and in small and/or isolated remnant patches of native forest. We surveyed frogs at 60 sites at streams and wetlands in the pine plantation, remnant patches of native forest surrounded by pines, and adjacent areas of contiguous native forest near Tumut in New South Wales, Australia. Only two of eight species of frogs were recorded in the pine plantation, and regression modelling indicated that streams and wetlands in the pines supported fewer frog species than those in remnant patches or the intact native forest. In addition, species richness tended to be higher at wide, shallow swamps and marshes near the headwaters of streams, with herbs, grasses, shrubs, reeds, sedges and rushes in the emergent and fringing vegetation. There was little evidence to suggest that larger eucalypt remnants supported more species of frogs, or that remnants isolated by greater expanses of pines supported fewer species, but we had low power to detect these effects with our data set. Our results support the preservation of all remnants of native forest along drainage lines and around swamps, soaks and bogs, regardless of size. Where new pine plantations are established, for example, on cleared agricultural land, care should be taken to maintain the structural and vegetative characteristics of water bodies to ensure that they continue to provide suitable breeding habitat for frogs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)93-101
    Number of pages9
    JournalActa Oecologica
    Volume25
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004

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