Factors driving the distribution of the koala in a modified landscape

Rivera, Paola 2020, Factors driving the distribution of the koala in a modified landscape, B.Science (Hons) thesis, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University.

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Title Factors driving the distribution of the koala in a modified landscape
Author Rivera, Paola
Institution Deakin University
School School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment
Degree type Honours
Degree name B.Science (Hons)
Thesis advisor Whisson, DesleyORCID iD for Whisson, Desley orcid.org/0000-0002-4221-0706
Date submitted 2020-04-23
Keyword(s) acoustic surveys
landscape modification
human impacts
habitat use
geographic information systems
Summary Context: Koalas face multiple threats in modified landscapes. Their conservation in such landscapes requires an understanding of how they respond to site and landscape characteristics.
Aims: To determine site and landscape-scale factors influencing koala distribution in a modified landscape.
Methods: Passive acoustic surveys were conducted at 123 sites across the Mornington Peninsula (Vic) from September to December 2019 (i.e. a single koala breeding season). The proportion of preferred food trees and an index of daytime noise were estimated for each site. Characteristics of the landscape (within a kilometre of each site) were derived in a Geographic Information System. Occupancy models were run to determine factors affecting koala site occupancy.
Key results: Forest cover had a positive influence on koala site occupancy, whereas road length had a negative effect. There was an interaction effect of fragmentation and daytime noise. In highly fragmented landscapes, site occupancy decreased with increasing noise. In landscapes with low fragmentation, daytime noise had no influence. The proportion of preferred food trees at a site, and watercourse length in the landscape also had no effect on koala site occupancy.
Conclusions: Koalas are most likely to be present in landscapes with at least 60% forest cover, few roads and no anthropogenic noise.
Implications: Koala conservation in modified landscapes requires action to maintain high levels of forest cover and to mitigate anthropogenic noise. However, koalas are unlikely to persist in areas with numerous roads.
Language eng
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 0602 Ecology
Description of original 52 p.
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Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30139130

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