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Distribution of Nocturnal Forest Birds and Mammals in Relation to the Logging Mosaic in South-Eastern New South Wales, Australia


Rodney P. Kavanagh & Khia L. Bamkin


State Forests of New South Wales, PO Box 100, Beecroft 2119, Australia


ABSTRACT

Numbers of nocturnal forest birds and mammals were estimated at 200 widely spaced sites in south-eastern New South Wales to determine their distribution in relation to logging. The focus was on the logged-unlogged forest mosaic rather than on individual logged or unlogged patches.

This approach, which compared large areas of unlogged forest with large areas offorest occurring within a logged-unlogged mosaic, was expected to provide more biologically meaningful results, particularly for species with large home ranges. Sampling sites were stratified by geology, within a specified range of mean annual rainfall, and by logging history. Analyses also considered the role of elevation, predominant vegetation community and the proportion of the surrounding landscape which had been logged.

All species, with the exception of the greater glider Petauroides volans, were recorded as frequently or more frequently in forests growing on Ordovician sediments. These forests, compared with those on Devonian granites, typically occurred at lower elevations in the region. Multivariate analysis of landscape components suggested that elevation and predominant vegetation community were better predictors of animal occurrence than geology. Logging history appeared to have less influence on counts for most species than geology and/or elevation.

The status of many species of nocturnal forest animals is reported in relation to the current logged-unlogged forest mosaic in south-eastern New South Wales. The species having the strongest association with unlogged forest was the greater glider. Numbers of the two largest species of forest owls, the powerful owl Ninox strenua and the sooty owl Tyto tenebricosa, were not disadvantaged at the landscape scale by the current pattern of logging.

Our findings indicate the need for maintenance and strengthening of management prescriptions designed to
retain and protect unlogged forest in gullies which is recognised as important habitat for most species. Some species, particularly the powerful owl, sooty owl, masked owl Tyto novaehollandiae, greater glider and the yellow-bellied glider Petaurus australis, are likely to require careful management during the second half of the first cutting cycle when adjacent unlogged coupes are cut.