Recovery of shrubland communities on abandoned farmland in southwestern Australia: Soils, plants, birds and arthropods

G. W. Arnold, M. Abensperg-Traun, R. J. Hobbs, D. E. Steven, L. Atkins, J. J. Viveen, D. M. Gutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Passive recovery of land formerly used for agricultural production may be an inexpensive and rapid method of ecosystem recovery, and may provide an alternative method to active revegetation. Passive recovery may also contribute to sustainable agriculture (soil salinity). For undisturbed and disturbed areas of the central wheatbelt of Western Australia, this paper reports the effects of farming history (clearing only, cultivation, duration of farming, and time since farming ceased) on the soil nutrient content, plant floristics (richness and composition) and structure, and the abundance, species richness and species composition of birds and arthropods. Only one site was cultivated for >6 years. We summarize as follows: (1) Previous clearing and cultivation has left no residual effects on the nitrogen or phosphorus content in the sandy soils. (2) There were no significant differences in terms of plant species richness but some differences in cover of woody plants, grass cover and plant species composition for farming history or time since farming ceased. (3) There were no significant differences in bird species richness but differences in species composition for time since farming ceased. (4) Arthropods showed few (and low) significant differences in their abundance, richness or species composition across different farming histories and time periods since farming ceased. Farming of these shrublands has left only minor changes in the composition and structure of the vegetation, and in the abundance, species richness and species composition of the passerine bird and arthropod assemblages. Abandoned parcels of land on the sandy soils which support shrubland may yield useful conservation benefits with relatively little input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-178
Number of pages16
JournalPacific Conservation Biology
Volume5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes

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    Arnold, G. W., Abensperg-Traun, M., Hobbs, R. J., Steven, D. E., Atkins, L., Viveen, J. J., & Gutter, D. M. (1999). Recovery of shrubland communities on abandoned farmland in southwestern Australia: Soils, plants, birds and arthropods. Pacific Conservation Biology, 5(3), 163-178.