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Large-scale spatial and temporal dynamics of the vulnerable and highly mobile superb parrot

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Abstract Aim 

To investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of the vulnerable and highly mobile superb parrot (Polytelis swainsonii) across its range in south-eastern mainland Australia. Location 

South-eastern Australia (27°–37° S latitude and 141°–151° E longitude). Methods 

We used generalized additive models (GAMs) to model time-specific bird atlas occurrence data against time-specific plant productivity data, plus a range of environmental predictor variables. We then examined the effects of environmental variables on the temporal and spatial patterns of predicted abundance and distribution of the superb parrot using a correlative mapping approach. Results 

Key findings from GAM analysis were: (1) there was a strong positive relationship between abundance and plant productivity in all regions, but (2) the response of abundance to other predictor variables often differed between regions. Correlative mapping predictions of the abundance and distribution of the superb parrot also indicated that: (1) predicted abundance varied through time and space, (2) predicted abundance sometimes decreased in all regions, but at other times some regions had high abundance when others had low, and (3) changes in plant productivity (and therefore climate) were associated with this variation. Main conclusion 

The superb parrot favours productive landscapes that are also favoured for agriculture. Movements appear to be associated with seasonal and year to year climate variability. Thus, variation in the recorded abundance of the superb parrot may mask population trends, suggesting that existing population estimates are unreliable. Also, high abundances in some areas, and at some times, may reflect deteriorating habitat conditions elsewhere rather than species recovery. Temporal variability in the distribution of the superb parrot makes it difficult to identify specific drought refugia. Consequently, through time, as key habitat continues to deteriorate, the species will become increasingly vulnerable and threatened. Whole-landscape habitat conservation and restoration strategies are therefore needed to sustain superb parrot populations in the long-term.
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Keywords: Climate; Polytelis swainsonii; correlative mapping; fragmentation; generalized additive modelling; landscape ecology; migration; parrot conservation; plant productivity; south-eastern Australia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia 2: Bureau of Rural Sciences, PO Box E11, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia

Publication date: 01 February 2007

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