The importance of ecological scale for wildlife conservation in naturally fragmented environments: A case study of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata)

Murray, J.A.V., Low Choy, S., McAlpine, C.A., Possingham, H.P. and Goldizen, A. W. (2008) The importance of ecological scale for wildlife conservation in naturally fragmented environments: A case study of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata). Biological Conservation, 141 1: 7-22. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2007.07.020


Author Murray, J.A.V.
Low Choy, S.
McAlpine, C.A.
Possingham, H.P.
Goldizen, A. W.
Title The importance of ecological scale for wildlife conservation in naturally fragmented environments: A case study of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata)
Formatted title
The importance of ecological scale for wildlife conservation in naturally fragmented environments: A case study of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata)
Journal name Biological Conservation   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0006-3207
Publication date 2008-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.07.020
Volume 141
Issue 1
Start page 7
End page 22
Total pages 16
Place of publication Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Subject C1
960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Abstract Determining the ecologically relevant spatial scales for predicting species occurrences is an important concept when determining species–environment relationships. Therefore species distribution modelling should consider all ecologically relevant spatial scales. While several recent studies have addressed this problem in artificially fragmented landscapes,few studies have researched relevant ecological scales for organisms that also live in naturally fragmented landscapes. This situation is exemplified by the Australian rock-wallabies’ preference for rugged terrain and we addressed the issue of scale using the threatened brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) in eastern Australia. We surveyed for brush-tailed rock-wallabies at 200 sites in southeast Queensland, collecting potentially influential site level and landscape level variables. We applied classification trees at either scale to capture a hierarchy of relationships between the explanatory variables and brush-tailed rock-wallaby presence/absence. Habitat complexity at the site level and geology at the landscape level were the best predictors of where we observed brushtailed rock-wallabies. Our study showed that the distribution of the species is affected by both site scale and landscape scale factors, reinforcing the need for a multi-scale approach to understanding the relationship between a species and its environment.We demonstrate that careful design of data collection, using coarse scale spatial datasets and finer scale field data, can provide useful information for identifying the ecologically relevant scales for studying species-environment relationships. Our study highlights the need to determine patterns of environmental influence at multiple scales to conserve specialist species such as the brush-tailed rock-wallaby in naturally fragmented landscapes.
Formatted abstract
Determining the ecologically relevant spatial scales for predicting species occurrences is an important concept when determining species–environment relationships. Therefore species distribution modelling should consider all ecologically relevant spatial scales. While several recent studies have addressed this problem in artificially fragmented landscapes,few studies have researched relevant ecological scales for organisms that also live in naturally fragmented landscapes. This situation is exemplified by the Australian rock-wallabies’ preference for rugged terrain and we addressed the issue of scale using the threatened brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) in eastern Australia. We surveyed for brush-tailed rock-wallabies at 200 sites in southeast Queensland, collecting potentially influential site level and landscape level variables. We applied classification trees at either scale to capture a hierarchy of relationships between the explanatory variables and brush-tailed rock-wallaby presence/absence. Habitat complexity at the site level and geology at the landscape level were the best predictors of where we observed brushtailed rock-wallabies. Our study showed that the distribution of the species is affected by
both site scale and landscape scale factors, reinforcing the need for a multi-scale approach to understanding the relationship between a species and its environment.We demonstrate that careful design of data collection, using coarse scale spatial datasets and finer scale field data, can provide useful information for identifying the ecologically relevant scales for studying species-environment relationships. Our study highlights the need to determine patterns of environmental influence at multiple scales to conserve specialist species such as the brush-tailed rock-wallaby in naturally fragmented landscapes.
Keyword Scale
Habitat complexity
Species–environment relationship
Landscape context
Classification trees
Stratification
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

 
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Created: Fri, 20 Feb 2009, 01:35:06 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences