CORVALLIS, Ore. - Ecosystems that have been altered by human activities can provide suitable habitat for native birds, according to scientists in the United States and Australia.

In a study published in the journal Ecosphere, the researchers concluded that while some native birds are sensitive to novel ecosystems, others don’t seem to mind.

The study results shouldn’t be interpreted that habitat restoration to historic conditions is futile and that all novel ecosystems are acceptable, said lead author Pat Kennedy, a wildlife biologist at Oregon State University. But they do show that habitat restoration can be prioritized.

“Prior to our study, the usefulness of novel ecosystems for native wildlife was a concept. Now we have empirical support,” said Kennedy, a professor in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Our data suggest that controlling non-native plants may not yield important benefits for some nesting birds, yet we are spending a lot of time and money attempting to restore these ecosystems. We need to start thinking more critically about restoration priorities.”

For the study, the researchers compared the populations and behaviors of birds in Zumwalt Prairie in northeastern Oregon with birds in human-designed public gardens in Perth, Australia.

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