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Past and future potential range changes in one of the last large vertebrates of the Australian continent, the emu Dromaius novaehollandiae


Ryeland, J and Derham, TT and Spencer, RJ, Past and future potential range changes in one of the last large vertebrates of the Australian continent, the emu Dromaius novaehollandiae, Scientific Reports, 11 Article 851. ISSN 2045-2322 (2021) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2021 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-020-79551-0


In Australia, significant shifts in species distribution have occurred with the loss of megafauna, changes in indigenous Australian fire regime and land-use changes with European settlement. The emu, one of the last megafaunal species in Australia, has likely undergone substantial distribution changes, particularly near the east coast of Australia where urbanisation is extensive and some populations have declined. We modelled emu distribution across the continental mainland and across the Great Dividing Range region (GDR) of eastern Australia, under historical, present and future climates. We predicted shifts in emu distribution using ensemble modelling, hindcasting and forecasting distribution from current emu occurrence data. Emus have expanded their range northward into central Australia over the 6000 years modelled here. Areas west of the GDR have become more suitable since the mid-Holocene, which was unsuitable then due to high precipitation seasonality. However, the east coast of Australia has become climatically sub-optimal and will remain so for at least 50 years. The north east of NSW encompasses the range of the only listed endangered population, which now occurs at the margins of optimal climatic conditions for emus. Being at the fringe of suitable climatic conditions may put this population at higher risk of further decline from non-climatic anthropogenic disturbances e.g. depredation by introduced foxes and pigs. The limited scientific knowledge about wild emu ecology and biology currently available limits our ability to quantify these risks.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Australia, Dromaius, emu, species distribution, range shifts, climate
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Derham, TT (Dr Tristan Derham)
ID Code:152570
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Research Performance and Analysis
Deposited On:2022-08-22
Last Modified:2022-09-20
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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