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Identifying multiscale habitat factors influencing koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) occurrence and management in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Januchowski, S.R., McAlpine, C.A., Callaghan, J.G., Griffin, C.B., Bowen, M., Mitchell, D. and Lunney, D. (2008) Identifying multiscale habitat factors influencing koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) occurrence and management in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. Ecological Management & Restoration, 9 (2). pp. 134-142.

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Modelling for the conservation of koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations has primarily focused on natural habitat variables (e.g. tree species, soil types and soil moisture). Until recently, limited consideration has been given to modelling the effects of the landscape context (e.g. habitat area, habitat configuration and roads). Yet, the combined influence of natural habitats and anthropogenic impacts at multiple spatial scales are likely to be important determinants of where koala populations occur and remain viable in human-modified landscapes. The study tested the importance of multiscale habitat variables on koala occurrence in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. The models focused at three spatial scales: site (< 1 ha), patch (1–100 ha), and landscape (100–1000 s ha). Logistic regression and hierarchical partitioning analyses were used to rank alternative models and key explanatory variables.

The results showed that an increased likelihood of koala presence in fragmented landscapes in the urban–forest interface (as opposed to larger blocks of forest habitat) can best be explained by the positive effects of soil fertility and the presence of preferred koala tree species in these fragmented areas. If koalas are to be effectively conserved in Ballarat, it is critical to (i) protect remaining core areas of high-quality habitat, including regenerating areas; (ii) protect scattered habitat patches which provide connectivity; and (iii) develop and implement habitat restoration programmes to improve habitat connectivity and enhance opportunities for safe koala movement between habitat patches intersected by main roads.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Chemical and Mathematical Science
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: 2008 Ecological Society of Australia
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