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