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Roughing it: terrain is crucial in identifying novel translocation sites for the vulnerable brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale pencillata)

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Morris, SD, Johnson, CN ORCID: 0000-0002-9719-3771 and Brook, BW ORCID: 0000-0002-2491-1517 2020 , 'Roughing it: terrain is crucial in identifying novel translocation sites for the vulnerable brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale pencillata)' , Royal Society open science, vol. 7, no. 12 , pp. 1-12 , doi: 10.1098/rsos.201603.

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Abstract

Translocations - the movement of species from one place to another - are likely to become more common as conservation attempts to protect small isolated populations from threats posed by extreme events such as bushfires. The recent Australian mega-fires burnt almost 40% of the habitat of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale pencillata), a threatened species whose distribution is already restricted, primarily due to predation by invasive species. This chronic threat of over-predation, coupled with the possible extinction of the genetically distinct southern population (approx. 40 individuals in the wild), makes this species a candidate for a conservation translocation. Here, we use species distribution models to identify translocation sites for the brush-tailed rock-wallaby. Our models exhibited high predictive accuracy, and show that terrain roughness, a surrogate for predator refugia, is the most important variable. Tasmania, which currently has no rock-wallabies, showed high suitability and is fox-free, making it a promising candidate site. We outline our argument for the trial translocation of rock-wallaby to Maria Island, located off Tasmania's eastern coast. This research offers a transparent assessment of the translocation potential of a threatened species, which can be adapted to other taxa and systems.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Morris, SD and Johnson, CN and Brook, BW
Keywords: conservation translocation, species distribution models, assisted migration, ecological modelling, Australian mega-fires
Journal or Publication Title: Royal Society open science
Publisher: Royal Society Publishing
ISSN: 2054-5703
DOI / ID Number: 10.1098/rsos.201603
Copyright Information:

© 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited

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