The importance of ecological scale for wildlife conservation in naturally fragmented environments: A case study of the Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby (Petrogale Penicillata)

Goldizen, A., Low Choy, S., McAlpine, C., Murray, J., & Possingham, H. (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), pp. 7-22.

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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 brush-tailed 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.

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22 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 30722
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Scale, Habitat Complexity, Species-Environment Relationship, Landscape Context, Classification Trees
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.07.020
ISSN: 0006-3207
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES (010000) > STATISTICS (010400) > Applied Statistics (010401)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS (050100) > Landscape Ecology (050104)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Deposited On: 12 Feb 2010 12:45
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2012 23:00

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