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Bruton MJ, CA McAlpine and M Maron (2013) Regrowth woodlands are valuable habitat for reptile communities. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION 165:95-103

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Protection of passive regrowth, or secondary vegetation, offers the potential to cost-effectively alleviate biodiversity declines caused by deforestation. This potential often goes unrealised because the habitat value of regrowth is generally considered marginal. However, the habitat value of regrowth varies among taxa. Disturbed subtropical woodland landscapes provide large-scale passive restoration opportunities. Subtropical woodlands are also rich in reptile diversity. We addressed the question: ?What is the habitat value of subtropical regrowth woodlands for reptile communities?? We identified five commonly-observed models of regrowth habitat value and then surveyed reptile communities in 43 cleared, regrowth and remnant Acacia- and Eucalyptus-dominated woodland sites in subtropical Queensland, Australia. Reptile species richness, diversity, dominance and community composition followed the ?regrowth = remnant? model of high regrowth value, where the habitat values of regrowth and remnant woodlands were similar, and higher than that of cleared land. Unexpectedly, the proportion of juveniles was highest in cleared sites and lower in both regrowth and remnant sites. Our findings challenge the view that the habitat value of regrowth is limited. Consistency in findings between contrasting woodland types suggest that our results may apply in other similarly disturbed woodlands. We conclude that although remnant woodlands are irreplaceable, regrowth woodlands provide valuable habitat for reptile communities and the protection of such regrowth should be a high priority in disturbed subtropical woodland systems.