Author(s): Bennett VA, Doerr VA, Doerr ED, Manning AD, Lindenmayer DB,
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Abstract Habitat restoration can play an important role in recovering functioning ecosystems and improving biodiversity. Restoration may be particularly important in improving habitat prior to species reintroductions. We reintroduced seven brown treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) social groups into two nature reserves in the Australian Capital Territory in south-eastern Australia. This study provided a unique opportunity to understand the interactions between restoration ecology, behavioural ecology and habitat ecology. We examined how experimental restoration treatments (addition of coarse woody debris, variations in ground vegetation cover and nest box installation) influenced the behaviour and microhabitat use of radio-tracked individuals to evaluate the success of restoration treatments. The addition of coarse woody debris benefited the brown treecreeper through increasing the probability of foraging on a log or on the ground. This demonstrated the value of using behaviour as a bio-indicator for restoration success. Based on previous research, we predicted that variations in levels of ground vegetation cover would influence behaviour and substrate use, particularly that brown treecreepers would choose sites with sparse ground cover because this allows better access to food and better vigilance for predators. However, there was little effect of this treatment, which was likely influenced by the limited overall use of the ground layer. There was also little effect of nest boxes on behaviour or substrate use. These results somewhat confound our understanding of the species based on research from extant populations. Our results also have a significant impact regarding using existing knowledge on a species to inform how it will respond to reintroduction and habitat restoration. This study also places great emphasis on the value of applying an experimental framework to ecological restoration, particularly when reintroductions produce unexpected outcomes.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Biodiversity & Endangered Species