Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Scale-dependent habitat analysis and implications for climate change risk for the southern hairy-nosed wombat

Victoria M. Marshall A , David A. Taggart A B and Bertram Ostendorf A B C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

B FAUNA Research Alliance, PO Box 98, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: bertram.ostendorf@adelaide.edu.au

Australian Mammalogy - https://doi.org/10.1071/AM16060
Submitted: 12 December 2016  Accepted: 20 June 2017   Published online: 15 August 2017

Abstract

Understanding factors determining the distribution of a species is critical for developing strategies and policies in natural resources management. The southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) is an excellent model species to examine species distribution patterns because of its conspicuous burrowing behaviour, making it possible to obtain highly accurate distribution maps. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relative importance of biophysical factors impacting on the species’ distribution at regional and continental scales. At the fine scale, we digitised the distribution of individual warrens within a population, whereas at the continental scale we utilised the entire species’ distribution. At the regional level, the strongest predictors of burrowing activity were soil characteristics and geology with little influence of climate. In contrast, at the continental scale, species distribution was most strongly influenced by climatic variables, with most of the distribution located in regions with narrow ranges of mean annual maximum temperature (23-25°C) and mean annual rainfall (200–300 mm). This discrepancy suggests that the species’ distribution is limited to small geographic areas where both a suitable climate and appropriate soil and geology exist and, consequently, that conservation strategies need to adopt a long-term view considering the combined effect of both regional and continental factors.

Additional keywords: arid zone, burrow, GIS, habitat preferences, Lasiorhinus latifrons, marsupial, remote sensing, warren.


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