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18 October 2012 Facilitated movement over major roads is required to minimise extinction risk in an urban metapopulation of a gliding mammal
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Abstract

Context . Urbanisation is recognised as a primary cause of biodiversity loss. Roads are an inherent element of this, creating partial or complete barriers to animal movement. Urban landscapes of eastern Australia are typified by a dense road network interspersed with remnant patches of bushland. Inter-patch movement by tree-dependent gliding mammals may be halted and, consequently, population viability threatened, when canopy gaps over roads exceed gliding ability.

Aims . We test the notion that a metapopulation of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in southern Brisbane can persist within a highly fragmented urban landscape with large road canopy gaps.

Methods . We used the population modelling software VORTEX to investigate the influence of inter-patch movement (dispersal) and wildfire on the probability of extinction. Wildfire is an inherent characteristic of this landscape.

Key results . Our modelling suggests that a lack of inter-patch movement as a result of road barriers, in tandem with wildfire, is associated with a high probability of local extinction. However, a small rate of inter-patch movement can substantially reduce the likelihood of extinction.

Conclusions . Road-crossing structures are the most plausible means available to link remnants to enable inter-patch movement for squirrel gliders in this landscape because of inadequate road-side tree height. Simulation studies such as the present study that test population viability are critical to convince land managers that action must be taken.

Implications . The need to conserve urban biodiversity will increase over time, so land managers must consider the likely benefits to population persistence conferred by installing wildlife crossing structures into existing roads.

© CSIRO 2012
Brendan D. Taylor and Ross L. Goldingay "Facilitated movement over major roads is required to minimise extinction risk in an urban metapopulation of a gliding mammal," Wildlife Research 39(8), 685-695, (18 October 2012). https://doi.org/10.1071/WR12142
Received: 30 July 2012; Accepted: 1 September 2012; Published: 18 October 2012
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