New research from The Australian National University has revealed for the first time the role large trees play in sustaining biodiversity and bird life in urban environments.
The study, led by Karen Stagoll, a PhD candidate in the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, examined large eucalypt trees in small suburban parks across Canberra. The team’s study is the first of its kind in the world and clearly shows that large trees in urban environments provide habitat resources crucial for wildlife.
"Large trees are considered ’keystone structures’, or ones which provide resources like food, nest sites and shelter for wildlife, in agricultural and forestry production landscapes," said Ms Stagoll. "But research demonstrating this in urban landscapes was urgently needed.
"We found that parks with more large eucalypts had more bird species and higher bird numbers, including more native woodland-dependent birds, some of which are declining in Canberra and the surrounding region. Birds were also more likely to breed in parks with large trees.
"We also found that if parks had really large, old trees they had more birds than parks with only smaller trees."
Ms Stagoll said that it is vital that large trees in urban environments are managed properly if cities are to maintain a diversity of wildlife.