Species distribution models for conservation: identifying translocation sites for eastern quolls under climate change
Barlow, MM and Johnson, CN and McDowell, MC and Fielding, MW and Amin, RJ and Brewster, R, Species distribution models for conservation: identifying translocation sites for eastern quolls under climate change, Global Ecology and Conservation, 29 Article e01735. ISSN 2351-9894 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Conservation and natural resource management are frequently hampered by poor understanding of how species distributions have changed over time. Species Distribution Models (SDMs) correlate known occurrences with environmental variables to predict a speciesí potential range. These models can then be projected to unsurveyed areas or time periods to overcome gaps in data on speciesí distribution. The eastern quoll Dasyurus viverrinus is restricted to Tasmania but until recently occurred over a large area of south-eastern mainland Australia. We used SDMs to reconstruct the distribution of climates suitable for D. viverrinus during the mid-Holocene and present day and identified areas likely to remain suitable in the future which could be prioritised for conservation. Climatically suitable habitat has mostly remained stable since the mid-Holocene, with some expansion. The historic contraction of the speciesí distribution was evidently due to threatening processes other than climate change, which are still operating. Under current conditions, large areas of south-eastern Australia still provide suitable habitat for eastern quolls and will continue to do so under predicted climate change scenarios for 2055. Suitable areas include offshore islands, in particular islands within the Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park in Victoria, and islands that make up the Furneaux Group in the Bass Strait. Translocations to these islands would establish populations in climatically suitable areas separate from threatening processes.
eastern quoll, Dasyurus viverrinus, species distribution model, island translocation, rewilding, climate refuge, spatial thinning