Can postmining revegetation create habitat for a threatened mammal?

Michael D. Craig, Danielle A. White, Vicki L. Stokes, Jane Prince

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Abstract

Most revegetation conducted for biodiversity conservation aims to mimic reference ecosystems present predisturbance. However, revegetation can overshoot or undershoot targets, particularly in the early stages of a recovery process, resulting in conditions different from the reference model. Revegetation that has, as yet, failed to fully meet revegetation targets may, nonetheless, provide habitat for threatened species not present in reference ecosystems. To investigate this possibility, we surveyed Quokka (Setonix brachyurus), a threatened macropod, in a mining landscape in south-western Australia. We established four sites in each of riparian forest, which is the preferred habitat of quokkas but is not mined, mid-slope forest, which is the premining reference ecosystem but is not suitable habitat for quokkas, and revegetated forest on mine pits 16–21 years postmining. We recorded quokkas in all riparian forest sites and two revegetated forest sites but not in any mid-slope forest sites. Occupied revegetated sites had greater cover between 0 and 2 m and were spatially closer to riparian forest than unoccupied revegetated sites, suggesting predation pressure was likely influencing which mine pits were occupied. Our study demonstrated postmining revegetation can provide new habitat for a threatened species and suggested that revegetating a small proportion of sites to provide new habitat for threatened species could be considered as a management option in some scenarios. This could improve landscape connectivity and increase both the area of available habitat and between-site heterogeneity, which could all potentially increase the ability of revegetation to conserve biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalEcological Management and Restoration
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

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revegetation
land restoration
mammal
mammals
riparian forest
riparian forests
habitat
threatened species
habitats
ecosystems
ecosystem
biodiversity
South Australia
Western Australia
connectivity
predation

Cite this

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abstract = "Most revegetation conducted for biodiversity conservation aims to mimic reference ecosystems present predisturbance. However, revegetation can overshoot or undershoot targets, particularly in the early stages of a recovery process, resulting in conditions different from the reference model. Revegetation that has, as yet, failed to fully meet revegetation targets may, nonetheless, provide habitat for threatened species not present in reference ecosystems. To investigate this possibility, we surveyed Quokka (Setonix brachyurus), a threatened macropod, in a mining landscape in south-western Australia. We established four sites in each of riparian forest, which is the preferred habitat of quokkas but is not mined, mid-slope forest, which is the premining reference ecosystem but is not suitable habitat for quokkas, and revegetated forest on mine pits 16–21 years postmining. We recorded quokkas in all riparian forest sites and two revegetated forest sites but not in any mid-slope forest sites. Occupied revegetated sites had greater cover between 0 and 2 m and were spatially closer to riparian forest than unoccupied revegetated sites, suggesting predation pressure was likely influencing which mine pits were occupied. Our study demonstrated postmining revegetation can provide new habitat for a threatened species and suggested that revegetating a small proportion of sites to provide new habitat for threatened species could be considered as a management option in some scenarios. This could improve landscape connectivity and increase both the area of available habitat and between-site heterogeneity, which could all potentially increase the ability of revegetation to conserve biodiversity.",
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Can postmining revegetation create habitat for a threatened mammal? / Craig, Michael D.; White, Danielle A.; Stokes, Vicki L.; Prince, Jane.

In: Ecological Management and Restoration, Vol. 18, No. 2, 01.05.2017, p. 149-155.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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