Understanding patterns in the distribution and abundance of wildlife across the landscape can aid in identifying the relative importance of habitats for biodiversity conservation. We aimed to identify whether riparian habitats were more important than other areas in the landscape to small terrestrial vertebrates. The study site was surveyed using 450 pit traps distributed across riparian, midslope and ridge top habitat. Riparian sites had the greatest abundance of small vertebrates of the three habitats. During some months of the year, there was a significant difference in the composition of the faunal assemblage between habitats. Unsurprisingly, riparian habitats were particularly important for frog species and it was these species that accounted for the greater abundance in this habitat. Riparian habitat was less important for other taxonomic groups and the more floristically rich midslope and ridge habitats, which had a greater abundance of leaf litter, fallen logs and rock cover, were favoured by mammal and reptile species. The conservation of riparian sites, without the protection of other habitats, overlooks a substantial proportion of the biodiversity in the landscape. This study may help inform management decisions in the Upper Warren region and other similar forested landscapes, regarding the location and timing of fauna monitoring and the frequency of fuel reduction burns.
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Vol. 64 • No. 4