Not all kinds of revegetation are created equal: revegetation type influences bird assemblages in threatened Australian woodland ecosystems

PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34527. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034527. Epub 2012 Apr 6.


The value for biodiversity of large intact areas of native vegetation is well established. The biodiversity value of regrowth vegetation is also increasingly recognised worldwide. However, there can be different kinds of revegetation that have different origins. Are there differences in the richness and composition of biotic communities in different kinds of revegetation? The answer remains unknown or poorly known in many ecosystems. We examined the conservation value of different kinds of revegetation through a comparative study of birds in 193 sites surveyed over ten years in four growth types located in semi-cleared agricultural areas of south-eastern Australia. These growth types were resprout regrowth, seedling regrowth, plantings, and old growth. Our investigation produced several key findings: (1) Marked differences in the bird assemblages of plantings, resprout regrowth, seedling regrowth, and old growth. (2) Differences in the number of species detected significantly more often in the different growth types; 29 species for plantings, 25 for seedling regrowth, 20 for resprout regrowth, and 15 for old growth. (3) Many bird species of conservation concern were significantly more often recorded in resprout regrowth, seedling regrowth or plantings but no species of conservation concern were recorded most often in old growth. We suggest that differences in bird occurrence among different growth types are likely to be strongly associated with growth-type differences in stand structural complexity.Our findings suggest a range of vegetation growth types are likely to be required in a given farmland area to support the diverse array of bird species that have the potential to occur in Australian temperate woodland ecosystems. Our results also highlight the inherent conservation value of regrowth woodland and suggest that current policies which allow it to be cleared or thinned need to be carefully re-examined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Biota
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Endangered Species*
  • Forestry
  • Phylogeography
  • Plant Development*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Seedlings / growth & development*