Modeling species' distributions to improve conservation in semiurban landscapes: koala case study

Conservation Biology : the Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
Jonathan R RhodesHugh P Possingham


Models of species' distributions are commonly used to inform landscape and conservation planning. In urban and semiurban landscapes, the distributions of species are determined by a combination of natural habitat and anthropogenic impacts. Understanding the spatial influence of these two processes is crucial for making spatially explicit decisions about conservation actions. We present a logistic regression model for the distribution of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in a semiurban landscape in eastern Australia that explicitly separates the effect of natural habitat quality and anthropogenic impacts on koala distributions. We achieved this by comparing the predicted distributions from the model with what the predicted distributions would have been if anthropogenic variables were at their mean values. Similar approaches have relied on making predictions assuming anthropogenic variables are zero, which will be unreliable if the training data set does not include anthropogenic variables close to zero. Our approach is novel because it can be applied to landscapes where anthropogenic variables are never close to zero. Our model showed that, averaged across the study area, natural habitat was the main determinant of koala presence....Continue Reading


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