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Seasonal use of savanna landscapes by the Gouldian finch, Erythrura gouldiae, in the Yinberrie Hills area, Northern Territory

Dostine, PL, Johnson, GC, Franklin, Donald C., Zhang, Y. and Hempel, C. (2001). Seasonal use of savanna landscapes by the Gouldian finch, Erythrura gouldiae, in the Yinberrie Hills area, Northern Territory. Wildlife Research,28(4):445-458.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Seasonal use of savanna landscapes by the Gouldian finch, Erythrura gouldiae, in the Yinberrie Hills area, Northern Territory
Author Dostine, PL
Johnson, GC
Franklin, Donald C.
Zhang, Y.
Hempel, C.
Journal Name Wildlife Research
Publication Date 2001
Volume Number 28
Issue Number 4
ISSN 1035-3712   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 445
End Page 458
Total Pages 14
Place of Publication Collingwood
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract The diet, attributes of feeding sites and patterns of seasonal movements of a population of the Gouldian finch, Erythrura gouldiae, were studied in the Yinberrie Hills area north of Katherine in the Northern Territory. In the dry season (April-November) Gouldian finches foraged mostly on burnt ground and fed on exposed seed of annual grasses, especially seed of spear-grass, Sorghum spp. In the wet season (December-March) Gouldian finches fed on seed of a sequence of perennial grass species, including Themeda triandra, Alloteropsis semialata, Chrysopogon fallax and Heteropogon triticeus. Gouldian finches undertake regular seasonal shifts in habitat, from breeding areas in hill woodland in the dry season to adjacent lowlands throughout much of the wet season, in response to seasonal changes in food availability. There is an annual pulse in abundance of fallen seed in the early dry season that is depleted to near zero levels by germination of annual grasses early in the wet season. Thereafter, finches depend on seed from other sources, principally ripe and ripening seed of perennial grasses. Observations over three successive wet seasons suggest that Gouldian finches track seed resources provided by seeding perennial grasses over an extensive area of lowland grassy woodland adjacent to the breeding area, favouring small patches of grassy woodland for brief periods until seed fall. There were subtle differences between years in the types of resources used. Management of Gouldian finch populations will entail protection and management of the full range of grassland habitats used throughout the annual cycle, and will require predictive knowledge of the causes of patterning of seed resources and probably an ability to exert control over the timing and extent of fires in fire-prone seasonal savanna landscapes.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR00049   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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