Agricultural intensification and loss of matrix habitat over 23 years in the West Wimmera, south-eastern Australia

Maron, Martine and Fitzsimons, James A. (2007) Agricultural intensification and loss of matrix habitat over 23 years in the West Wimmera, south-eastern Australia. Biological Conservation, 135 (4). pp. 587-593. ISSN 0006-3207

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The global trend toward more intensive forms of agriculture is changing the nature of matrix habitat in agricultural areas. Removal of components of matrix habitat can affect native biota at the paddock and the landscape scale, particularly where intensification occurs over large areas. We identify the loss of paddock trees due to the proliferation of centre pivot irrigation in dryland farming areas as a potentially serious threat to the remnant biota of these areas. We used a region of south-eastern Australia as a case study to quantify land use change from grazing and dryland cropping to centre pivot irrigation over a 23-year period. We also estimated rates of paddock tree loss in 5 representative landscapes within the region over the same period. The total area affected by centre pivots increased from 0 ha in 1980 to nearly 9000 ha by 2005. Pivots were more likely to be established in areas which had originally been plains savannah and woodlands containing buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii), a food source for an endangered bird. On average, 42% of paddock buloke trees present in 1982 were lost by 2005. In the two landscapes containing several centre pivots, the loss was 54% and 70%. This accelerated loss of important components of matrix habitat is likely to result in species declines and local extinctions. We recommend that measures to alleviate the likely negative impacts of matrix habitat loss on native biota be considered as part of regional planning strategies.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Accepted version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 00:53
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:41
Uncontrolled Keywords: paddock trees; matrix habitat loss; centre pivot irrigation; agricultural intensification; dryland farming; evergreen tree; grazing; habitat loss; irrigation; land use change; savanna; woodland
Fields of Research : 06 Biological Sciences > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960804 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.10.051

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