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Building resilience to change: Pilbara mammals

Pilbara. Image: S Dillon

Building resilience to change for mammals in a multi-use landscape

Connectivity of habitat between populations facilitates animal movement and is an important mechanism for the maintenance of genetic diversity within and between populations. The loss of landscape connectivity can lead to a decrease in genetic diversity, limiting the capacity of a species to adapt to changing conditions and increasing extinction risk.

This project will apply a novel landscape genetic approach to identify connectivity pathways (corridors) and core habitat (refugia) for a range of small to medium-sized mammals in the Pilbara, including four that are endangered nationally.

Project using state-of-the-art analytical techniques

The project will bring together genetic and spatial datasets in a multi-species framework to:

  • Locate refuges (that offer stable and buffered habitat that species can retreat to, persist in and expand from under changing environmental conditions)
  • Locate corridors for animal dispersal
  • Evaluate the stability of both refuges and corridors under changing conditions
  • Identify conservation strategies that will enhance and protect these important habitats

This project is significant in utilising state-of-the-art analytical techniques to spatially-prioritise landscape areas important for species’ persistence and resilience to change, thereby providing a means to efficiently allocate resources to areas that are expected to provide the greatest return on investment for species’ conservation.

Desired outcomes

Specifically, the outcomes of this project will help inform land management decisions in the multi-use landscape of the Pilbara. For example, the WA Government’s recently announced Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund identifies that a landscape-scale, coordinated approach to development and biodiversity conservation is critical to ensure sustainable outcomes for government, industry and the environment.

Resource companies operating in the Pilbara are also desirous of a strategic regional context within which to undertake their development approval conditions, for example, to identify and protect habitat of threatened fauna, and to identify offset areas.

Project partners

Murdoch University, Australian National University, Roy Hill, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Western Australian Museum, CSIRO, Biologic Environmental and WABSI.

This project was awarded an ARC Linkage Grant in 2017.

 

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