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Habitat suitability, live abundance and their link to road mortality of Tasmanian wildlife

Citation

Nguyen, HKD and Fielding, MW and Buettel, JC and Brook, BW, Habitat suitability, live abundance and their link to road mortality of Tasmanian wildlife, Wildlife Research, 46, (3) pp. 236-246. ISSN 1035-3712 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/WR18128

Abstract

Context: Tasmania has been called the roadkill capital of Australia. However, little is known about the population-level impact of vehicle mortality on native mammals in the island state.

Aims: The aims were to investigate the predictability of roadkill on a given route, based on models of species distribution and live animal abundance for three marsupial species in Tasmania-the Tasmanian pademelon (Thylogale billardierii), Bennett's wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) and the bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus)-and to assess the possibility of predicting the magnitude of state-wide road mortality based on live animal abundance.

Methods: Road mortality of the three species was measured on eight 15-km road segments in south-eastern Tasmania, during 16 weeks over the period 2016-17. Climate suitability was predicted using state-wide geographical location records, using species distribution models, and counts of these species from 190 spotlight survey roads.

Key results: The Tasmanian pademelons were the most frequently killed animal encountered over the study period. Live abundance, predicted by fitting models to spotlight counts, did not correlate with this fatality rate for any species. However, the climate suitability index generated by the species distribution models was strongly predictive for wombat roadkill, and moderately so for pademelons.

Conclusions: Although distributional and wildlife abundance records are commonly available and well described by models based on climate, vegetation and land-use predictors, this approach to climate suitability modelling has limited predictability for roadkill counts on specific routes.

Implications: Road-specific factors, such as characteristics of the road infrastructure, nearby habitats and behavioural traits, seem to be required to explain roadkill frequency. Determining their relative importance will require spatial analysis of roadkill locations.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:bare-nosed wombat, Bennett’s wallaby, climate suitability modelling, species distribution models, Tasmanian pademelon.
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Nguyen, HKD (Ms Hanh Nguyen)
UTAS Author:Fielding, MW (Mr Matthew Fielding)
UTAS Author:Buettel, JC (Dr Jessie Buettel)
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:140309
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Natural Sciences
Deposited On:2020-08-06
Last Modified:2020-09-03
Downloads:0

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