Eucalypts, wildlife and nature conservation: From individual trees to landscape patterns Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Eucalypts — gums, stringybarks, box, ironbarks and mallees — are key elements of ecosystems occupied by much of Australia’s distinctive and unique wildlife. Individual eucalypts provide an array of food resources (e.g. foliage, seeds, nectar, sap) for animals, while shelter, refuge and breeding sites for many species are associated with the physical structures of eucalypts (e.g. dense foliage, bark crevices, hollows) and fallen material (logs, leaf litter). Stands of eucalypts make up patches of habitat that sustain populations and communities of animals. The size and shape of a patch, its tree-species composition and age structure, and the context of the patch (isolation, topographic position) influence the species that occur and the structure of animal communities. At a landscape scale, the extent and spatial pattern of eucalypt forests and woodlands and the types of land uses and disturbance regimes they experience (e.g. logging, grazing, fire) shape the distribution and conservation status of animal species across extensive areas. Eucalypts form a distinctive part of the natural and cultural heritage of Australia, yet too often they are taken for granted. The value that Australians place on the protection, management and restoration of eucalypts, from individual trees to ecosystems, will have a critical role in determining the future of Australian wildlife.

publication date

  • 2016