Effects of landscape pattern on bird species distribution in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, South Australia

Michael I. Westphal, S. A. Field, A. J. Tyre, D. Paton, H. P. Possingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We assessed how well landscape metrics at 2, 5, and 10 km scales could explain the distribution of woodland bird species in the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. We considered 31 species that have isolated or partially isolated populations in the region and used the Akaike Information Criterion to select a set of candidate logistic regression models. The 2 km distance was the most appropriate scale for a plurality of the species. While the total amount of area of native vegetation around a site was the most important determining factor, the effect of landscape configuration was also important for many species. Most species responded positively to area-independent fragmentation, but the responses to mean patch isolation and mean patch shape were more variable. Considering a set of candidate models for which there is reasonable support (Akaike weights > 0.10), 12 species responded negatively to landscapes with highly linear and isolated patches. No clear patterns emerged in terms of taxonomy or functional group as to how species respond to landscape configuration. Most of the species had models with relatively good discrimination (12 species had ROC values > 0.70), indicating that landscape pattern alone can explain their distributions reasonably well. For six species there were no models that had strong weight of evidence, based on the AIC and ROC criteria. This analysis shows the utility of the Akaike Information Criterion approach to model selection in landscape ecology. Our results indicate that landscape planners in the Mount Lofty Ranges must consider the spatial configuration of vegetation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-426
Number of pages14
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Akaike Information Criterion
  • Australian birds
  • Fragmentation
  • Landscape metrics
  • Logistic regression
  • Receiver Operating Characteristic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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