Can multiscale models of species' distribution be generalized from region to region? A case study of the koala

McAlpine, C. A., Rhodes, J. R., Bowen, M., Lunney, D., Callaghan, J. G., Mitchell, D. L. and Possingham, H. P. (2008) Can multiscale models of species' distribution be generalized from region to region? A case study of the koala. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45 2: 558-567. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01431.x


Author McAlpine, C. A.
Rhodes, J. R.
Bowen, M.
Lunney, D.
Callaghan, J. G.
Mitchell, D. L.
Possingham, H. P.
Title Can multiscale models of species' distribution be generalized from region to region? A case study of the koala
Journal name Journal of Applied Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0021-8901
1365-2654
1365-2664
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01431.x
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 45
Issue 2
Start page 558
End page 567
Total pages 10
Editor Rob Freckleton
Gillian Kerby
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Subject 05 Environmental Sciences
0501 Ecological Applications
Abstract 1. While various studies have evaluated the habitat requirements for wildlife in fragmented forest landscapes at multiple spatial scales, few have considered whether there is regional variation in the most important factors. This is a conundrum for managers of any species with a broad geographical range: to what extent should studies in one region inform decisions in another?
Formatted abstract
*1. While various studies have evaluated the habitat requirements for wildlife in fragmented forest landscapes at multiple spatial scales, few have considered whether there is regional variation in the most important factors. This is a conundrum for managers of any species with a broad geographical range: to what extent should studies in one region inform decisions in another?

* 2. We addressed this question using a case study of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, in three biogeographically different fragmented forested landscapes in eastern Australia. Mixed-effect logistic models were applied to predict koala occurrence from explanatory variables captured at four spatial scales: the individual tree, the stand (<1 ha), the patch (1–100 ha) and the landscape (100–1000 ha).

* 3. We used model averaging to account for model and parameter uncertainty, and tested the cross-regional discrimination ability of the models.

* 4. We discovered that multiscale models of koala distribution cannot be readily generalized from region to region, and that specific conservation actions for each region, rather than the entire geographical range, are more appropriate. We found a strong justification for adopting a hierarchical landscape approach to koala conservation across its range. However, cross-regional differences in habitat relationships occurred within this hierarchy. Exceptions were landscape context, which showed a consistently strong effect and high rank in all regions, and the presence of individual preferred tree species of the genus Eucalyptus, which showed modest consistency in its interaction with large-diameter trees across the regions. In contrast, the remaining habitat variables, including patch size (a key management factor), showed moderate to strong cross-regional variation attributed to the interaction of edaphic factors, landscape history and contemporary land-use patterns.

* 5. Synthesis and applications. Adopting a uniform conservation programme over a large geographical area is attractive to policy-makers and conservation planners. However, our study confirms the lack of generality of species distribution models over large areas. Consequently, we argue against adopting a uniform conservation programme for species with a large geographical range.

Keyword Cross-regional prediction
Forest Fragmentation
Habitat Loss
Geographical Range
Landscape Context
Mixed-effects models
Wildlife Conservation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Thu, 09 Apr 2009, 02:00:05 EST by Helen Smith on behalf of Faculty of Science