Long-term trends in lineage ‘health’ of the Australian Koala (Mammalia:Phascolarctidae): using paleo-diversity to prioritize species for conservation

Price, Gilbert J. (2012). Long-term trends in lineage ‘health’ of the Australian Koala (Mammalia:Phascolarctidae): using paleo-diversity to prioritize species for conservation. In Julien Louys (Ed.), Paleontology in ecology and conservation (pp. 171-192) Berlin, Germany: Springer.


Author Price, Gilbert J.
Title of chapter Long-term trends in lineage ‘health’ of the Australian Koala (Mammalia:Phascolarctidae): using paleo-diversity to prioritize species for conservation
Title of book Paleontology in ecology and conservation
Place of Publication Berlin, Germany
Publisher Springer
Publication Year 2012
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
Series Springer earth system sciences
ISBN 9783642250385
9783642250378
Editor Julien Louys
Chapter number 9
Start page 171
End page 192
Total pages 22
Total chapters 13
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Understanding phylogenetic diversity over large temporal scales as afforded by the fossil record allows for the identification of the history of taxonomic diversity in extant taxa. Identification of such long-term trends in lineage ‘health’ is a critical, but commonly underutilized method for helping to prioritize species for conservation. The modern Australian koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is a case in point. It is widely debated whether the modern koala should be an immediate candidate for conservation. Although modern populations have seen recent declines in some regions, in other areas koalas are overabundant, with translocation, contraceptive, and evening culling programs suggested as population control measures. The view from the fossil record is that koalas (family Phascolarctidae) have suffered a dramatic, progressive long-term decline in diversity (e.g., four genera and eight species in the late Oligocene, compared to only one genus and species at present). At no time in the known history of the Phascolarctidae has phylogenetic diversity been as low as today. Climate change, leading to enhanced variability in seasonality, increased aridfication, and habitat change has had a negative impact on phascolarctid diversity through time, and has been a determining factor in the geographic range of the modern koala. Do such observations warrant adding the modern koala to the list of threatened species? Although the answer to this question remains outside the scope of this chapter, it should be remembered that extinction of the extant koala would mark the loss of not only of a single species, but also of an entire family of endemic Australian marsupial.
Keyword Climate change
Extinction
Koala
Lineage health
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Book Chapter
Collections: School of Earth Sciences Publications
Official 2013 Collection
 
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Created: Thu, 20 Sep 2012, 10:58:47 EST by Ms Imogen Ferrier on behalf of School of Earth Sciences