Next box for birds

New study points to popular garden features helping wildlife

You may have installed a bird bath in your garden to attract birds. There may be a few wildlife boxes in neighbourhood trees nearby.

And you may be wondering if they are effective in supporting biodiversity?

Well, rest assured. A WA study, just published in the ‘Urban Ecosystems’ journal, shows that local nature is very thankful.

University of Western Australia researchers examined the use of seven wildlife-friendly structure types used by four vertebrate taxa groups and conducted nearly 3,000 wildlife surveys between 2022 and 2023.

The researchers found that all structures were used primarily by target taxa, water sources were often used by relatively common species, certain structures such as possum shelters were used by rare and threatened species (eg., the western ringtail possum), and that there was evidence of animals making use of the wildlife-friendly structures for reproduction (eg., bird eggs in nest boxes and tadpoles in water sources).

Water sources were used more frequently and by a greater diversity of wildlife than artificial refuges.

In particular, bird baths were used by the highest number of species (mainly birds) while ponds were used by the greatest variety of taxa (birds, reptiles, frogs, mammals).

The findings provide evidence-based support for the advocacy of wildlife-friendly gardening practices and further highlight the role of residential gardens for biodiversity conservation.