Scientists name for improved administration of a weedy tree to guard owl habitat

Highly effective owl sitting in a blackwood tree holding a ringtail possum at one of many surveyed websites. Credit score: Ian Rainbow

Candy pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum) was as soon as a well-behaved tree rising in gullies from Gippsland in Victoria as much as Brisbane in Queensland.

However it’s now a serious downside, resulting in an nearly full suppression of native vegetation the place it has invaded. Packages to clear it have efficiently allowed indigenous vegetation to return, and inside 15 years, with reasonable observe up, handled websites are properly on the best way to profitable restoration.

Nonetheless, there was some debate on whether or not that is good or unhealthy for birds such because the threatened Highly effective Owl.

New analysis by Monash College scientists from the Faculty of Organic Sciences revealed right now in Ecological Options and Proof reveals that the richness and abundance of birds is far diminished in areas with dense Pittosporum canopies.

“The just about full absence of any understory vegetation and no floor cowl means there’s little or no for birds to eat in invaded websites,” stated lead research writer Dr. Ben O’Leary, who carried out the surveys as a part of his Ph.D.

“Most habitat parts for birds exists throughout the Eucalyptus overstorey and mid cover. The presence or elimination of Pittosporum would not seem to vastly affect floor storey fowl species, which have been in long-term decline.”

The research discovered that there are additionally fewer carnivorous birds in Pittosporum-invaded websites, in all probability as a result of there’s much less prey on the bottom and the dense Pittosporum cover makes it onerous for these giant birds to navigate by means of these areas.

“Whereas invaded websites should not nice habitat, restoration initiatives want to make sure that the total vary of habitats proceed to be obtainable through the transition interval,” Dr. O’Leary stated.

One issue in overseeing the elimination of an invasive tree species is that these timber, in sure circumstances, present structural worth to native wildlife. There’s a lag time between the invaders’ elimination and its alternative by indigenous alternate options.

“The trick is balancing the development of weed management with the retention of sufficient construction to assist native vegetation and animals,” Dr. O’Leary stated.

Challenge chief and co-author Professor Ros Gleadow additionally from the Faculty of Organic Sciences, has been learning Pittosporum for over 40 years.

“You will need to eliminate the Pittosporum now,” Professor Gleadow stated.

“Not solely does it suppress the understorey, however in all these years, I’ve by no means seen a eucalypt seedling rising underneath a Pittosporum cover,” she stated.

“As soon as the previous eucalypts at a website die, that is it and it of each native vegetation and birds is not possible with out main intervention”.

Earlier work by the group confirmed that areas might be restored to their unique state if there are wholesome remnant websites close by.

“For areas the place Pittosporum is native, like round Sydney, administration is philosophically difficult however there isn’t a doubt that clearing will to assist protect biodiversity,” Professor Gleadow stated.

Progressively clearing the Pittosporum over time, leaving some cover in place in adjoining areas has the double good thing about offering potential roosting websites for the Highly effective Owls, in addition to rising the variety of prey.

As soon as the brand new shrubs and timber have grown, then clearing might progress to the following space.

Scientists name for motion to sort out an invasive tree species

Extra data:
Fowl neighborhood restoration following elimination of an invasive tree, Ecological Options and Proof (2021). besjournals.onlinelibrary.wile … 1002/2688-8319.12080

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Monash College

Scientists name for improved administration of a weedy tree to guard owl habitat (2021, June 11)
retrieved 11 June 2021

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