Use of wildlife-friendly structures in residential gardens by animal wildlife: evidence from citizen scientists in a global biodiversity hotspot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Private gardens comprise a large component of greenspace in cities and can offer substantial conservation opportunities. There has been strong advocacy from researchers, policymakers, and conservation practitioners to engage householders in wildlife-friendly gardening practices to increase the quantity, quality and connection of habitat resources for urban wildlife. Despite this call to action, there remains limited knowledge on the use and benefit of some wildlife-friendly structures within gardens, such as artificial refuges and water sources. In collaboration with 131 citizen scientists in southwestern Australia, we examined the use of seven wildlife-friendly structure types by four vertebrate taxa groups. Following 2841 wildlife surveys undertaken between 31 July 2022 and 22 February 2023, we found that all structures were used primarily by target taxa, water sources were often used by relatively common species, certain structures such as possum shelters were used by rare and threatened species (e.g. western ringtail possum), and that there was evidence of animals making use of the wildlife-friendly structures for reproduction (e.g. bird eggs in nest boxes and tadpoles in water sources). Water sources were used more frequently and by a greater diversity of wildlife than artificial refuges. In particular, bird baths were used by the highest number of species (mainly birds) while ponds were used by the greatest variety of taxa (birds, reptiles, frogs, mammals). Our findings provide evidence-based support for the advocacy of wildlife-friendly gardening practices and further highlight the role of residential gardens for biodiversity conservation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Ecosystems
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2024

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