University Of Tasmania
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Roughing it: terrain is crucial in identifying novel translocation sites for the vulnerable brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale pencillata)

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 23:03 authored by Shane Morris, Christopher JohnsonChristopher Johnson, Barry BrookBarry Brook
Translocations - the movement of species from one place to another - are likely to become more common as conservation attempts to protect small isolated populations from threats posed by extreme events such as bushfires. The recent Australian mega-fires burnt almost 40% of the habitat of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale pencillata), a threatened species whose distribution is already restricted, primarily due to predation by invasive species. This chronic threat of over-predation, coupled with the possible extinction of the genetically distinct southern population (approx. 40 individuals in the wild), makes this species a candidate for a conservation translocation. Here, we use species distribution models to identify translocation sites for the brush-tailed rock-wallaby. Our models exhibited high predictive accuracy, and show that terrain roughness, a surrogate for predator refugia, is the most important variable. Tasmania, which currently has no rock-wallabies, showed high suitability and is fox-free, making it a promising candidate site. We outline our argument for the trial translocation of rock-wallaby to Maria Island, located off Tasmania's eastern coast. This research offers a transparent assessment of the translocation potential of a threatened species, which can be adapted to other taxa and systems.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

Royal Society open science





Article number









School of Natural Sciences


Royal Society Publishing

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems; Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem)