Variability between scales: Predictors of nomadism in birds of an Australian Mediterranean climate ecosystem

  • Allen C
  • Saunders D
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Abstract

Nomadism in animals is a response to resource distributions that are highly variable in time and space. Using the avian fauna of the Mediterranean-climate region of southcentral Australia, we tested a number of variables to determine if they predicted nomadism. These variables were species body mass, the distance in body mass terms to the edge of a body mass aggregation, and diet (for example, seeds, invertebrates, nectar, or plants). We utilized two different classifications of the avifauna that diverged in their definition of nomadic to build two different predictive models. Using both classifications, distance to the edge of a body mass aggregation was found to be a significant predictor of nomadism. There was also evidence that nomads tend to feed on nectar and tend to be large. The significance of the variables body mass and diet (nectar) may reflect the greater energy requirements of large birds and the inherent variability of nectar as a food source. The significance of the variable distance to the edge of a body mass aggregation provides further evidence of inherent variability in resources between domains of scale. The edges of body mass aggregations are hypothesized to be areas of increased resource variability that reflect the transition from one scale of landscape pattern to another.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Australia
  • Birds
  • Body mass distributions
  • Body mass pattern
  • Landscape patterns
  • Mediterranean climate
  • Nomad
  • Scale
  • Scale break
  • Textural discontinuity hypothesis

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Authors

  • Craig R. Allen

  • Denis A. Saunders

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