Using broad-scale, community survey data to compare species conservation strategies across regions: A case study of the Koala in a set of adjacent ‘catchments’
By Mathew S. Crowther1,2, Clive A. McAlpine3, Daniel Lunney1, Ian Shannon1 and Jessica V. Bryant1
1New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change (PO Box 1967, Hurstville, NSW 2220, Australia; Tel.: +61 295856490; Fax: +61 295856606; Email: ).
2School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney (NSW 2006, Australia).
3University of Queensland (Centre for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, Department of Geographical Sciences and Planning, School of Geography, Planning and Architecture, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia).
Managers of wildlife populations with a wide geographical range are understandably interested in the question of whether they can manage a broader population with a single conservation strategy (e.g. covering a set of adjacent management regions, referred to as ‘catchments’ in Australia) or whether separate strategies are required for individual catchments. We addressed this question using data from a statewide, community wildlife survey to quantify Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) habitat relationships in the catchments of four adjacent Catchment Management Authorities or CMA (>10 000 km2) of New South Wales, Australia and then tested whether these habitat relationships were similar across catchments. Although the results were constrained by the coarse resolution of the community survey and environmental data, we were able to model broad-scale patterns of habitat use. Model explanatory power and cross-regional predictability was low, but consistent with Koala ecology. Two environmental variables emerged as having a strong relationship with Koala presence – mean elevation and percentage of fertile soils – the importance of which varied among catchments depending on land-use patterns. The results highlight the need for local wildlife management plans, not a single plan covering multiple catchments.