Out on a limb: habitat use of a specialist folivore, the koala, at the edge of its range in a modified semi-arid landscape

Smith, Andrew G., McAlpine, Clive A., Rhodes, Jonathan R., Lunney, Daniel, Seabrook, Leonie and Baxter, Greg (2013) Out on a limb: habitat use of a specialist folivore, the koala, at the edge of its range in a modified semi-arid landscape. Landscape Ecology, 28 3: 415-426. doi:10.1007/s10980-013-9846-4


Author Smith, Andrew G.
McAlpine, Clive A.
Rhodes, Jonathan R.
Lunney, Daniel
Seabrook, Leonie
Baxter, Greg
Title Out on a limb: habitat use of a specialist folivore, the koala, at the edge of its range in a modified semi-arid landscape
Journal name Landscape Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0921-2973
1572-9761
Publication date 2013-03-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10980-013-9846-4
Volume 28
Issue 3
Start page 415
End page 426
Total pages 12
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Abstract Habitat loss and natural catastrophes reduce the resources available to animals. Species can persist if they have access to additional resources and habitats through the processes of landscape complementation and supplementation. In arid and semi-arid ecosystems, where productivity is limited by precipitation, the impact of landscape change and prolonged drought is severe on specialist species whose range boundaries are limited by aridity. We examined the pattern of occurrence by a specialist arboreal folivore, the koala, at the periphery of its biogeographic range, in a semi-arid rangeland landscape. We used hierarchical mixed modelling to examine the effect of landscape change on koala populations and their habitat use during and after a prolonged drought. We found that the tree species and the distance of a site from water courses were the most important determinants for koala presence in these landscapes. Koalas were predominantly detected in riverine habitat along the water courses, which are primary habitat and provide refugia in times of drought and extreme heat. There was a strong positive effect from the interaction between the amount of primary and secondary habitat in the landscape, although individually, the amount of each of these habitats was not important. This shows koalas will persist in more intact landscapes. There was no difference in habitat use between dry and wet years, but we consider that it can take several wet seasons for koalas to expand into habitats away from water courses.
Keyword Landscape change
Resource use
Landscape supplementation
Refugia
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
Official 2014 Collection
 
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