Extinction in Eden: identifying the role of climate change in the decline of the koala in south-eastern NSW

Lunney, Daniel, Stalenberg, Eleanor, Santika, Truly and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2014) Extinction in Eden: identifying the role of climate change in the decline of the koala in south-eastern NSW. Wildlife Research, 41 1: 22-34. doi:10.1071/WR13054

Author Lunney, Daniel
Stalenberg, Eleanor
Santika, Truly
Rhodes, Jonathan R.
Title Extinction in Eden: identifying the role of climate change in the decline of the koala in south-eastern NSW
Journal name Wildlife Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1035-3712
Publication date 2014-01-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/WR13054
Volume 41
Issue 1
Start page 22
End page 34
Total pages 13
Place of publication Collingwood, VIC, Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Context: Reviews of climate change in Australia have identified that it is imposing additional stresses on biodiversity, which is already under threat from multiple human impacts.

Aims: The present study aimed to determine the contributions of several factors to the demise of the koala in the Eden region in south-eastern New South Wales and, in particular, to establish to what extent climate change may have exacerbated the decline.

Methods: The study built on several community-based koala surveys in the Eden region since 1986, verified through interviews with survey respondents. Historical records as far back as the late 19th century, wildlife databases and field-based surveys were used to independently validate the community survey data and form a reliable picture of changes in the Eden koala population. Analysis of the community survey data used a logistic model to assess the contribution of known threats to koalas, including habitat loss measured as changes in foliage projective cover, fire, increases in the human population and climate change in the form of changes in temperature and rainfall, to the regional decline of this species.

Key results: We found a marked, long-term shrinkage in the distribution of the koala across the Eden region. Our modelling demonstrated that a succession of multiple threats to koalas from land use (human population growth and habitat loss) and environmental change (temperature increase and drought) were significant contributors to this decline.

Conclusions: Climate change, particularly drought and rising temperatures, has been a hitherto hidden factor that has been a major driver of the decline of the koala in the Eden region.

Implications: Development of strategies to help fauna adapt to the changing climate is of paramount importance, particularly at a local scale.
Keyword Cmmunity survey
Land-use change
Phascolarctos cinereus
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 2015 Collection
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 14 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 14 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 17 Jun 2014, 12:47:20 EST by System User on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management