Pilbara-mammalsMy research uses landscape genomics to identify priority areas for conserving small mammals across the Pilbara region of Western Australia. By exploring genomic and environmental patterns across the small-mammal community, my aim is to develop a framework for integrating landscape genetics and spatial analyses into conservation prioritisations.
Principal investigatorRobyn Shaw email@example.com
Area of scienceEnvironmental Sciences, Genomics
Applications usedR statistical programming language, QGIS
The Pilbara region of Western Australia is a biodiversity hotspot, renowned for its high levels of species endemism. This region also has rich mineral reserves and agricultural value, meaning that there are conflicting priorities in the management of this vast landscape. The Pilbara also represents a stronghold for many threatened species that were once widespread across northern Australia. Australia’s mammals are declining at an alarming rate, particularly those in the “Critical Weight Range”, due to compounding threats including feral predators, introduced herbivores, land use change and changing fire regimes. For this reason, there is urgent need to develop conservation management strategies that integrate landscape-scale approaches to threat management, habitat protection and meta-population health across multiple species. In particular, there is a need for decision-making tools that support best practice conservation strategies for building resilient mammal communities in this unique, multi-use landscape.
Our study combines species occurrence records, high resolution genomic data, and spatial environmental data to understand how species utilise and move through the landscape. We focus on 11 small to medium sized mammals (rodents and marsupials), with the goal of identifying key habitat, dispersal corridors, areas that are genetically unique and areas with high/low levels of genetic diversity. Using species distribution modelling, and cutting edge landscape and population genomic approaches, we have created a suite of decision-making tools in the form of multi-species connectivity and habitat maps. This project provides a framework for a more holistic approach to conservation that can be applied to management in multi-use landscapes globally.
For the most part, my Nimbus instance has been used for running landscape genetics analyses. These analyses involve optimisation through simulations and are incredibly memory intensive. I would not have been able to carry out these analyses on my own machine; Nimbus was crucial for enabling this work to go ahead. I have also used Nimbus to handle spatial data, which are also too large for my local machine to handle.
Commercial Advantage of this Project
The spatial tools generated during this project will be used to provide guidance for conservation prioritisation in the Pilbara; i.e. where are the best places to focus conservation effort and protect? This will provide financial benefit, as it will ensure the most cost-effective conservation actions are chosen.
List of Publications
Shaw RE, Spencer P, Gibson L, Moritz C, Durrant B, Mokany K, Byrne M, Travouillon K, Davie H and Ottewell KM. Linking life history to landscape: conservation of a threatened mammal in a multi-use environment. In prep. for submission to Conservation Biology.
Skey ED, Ottewell KM, Spencer P, Shaw RE. A landscape genetic approach to understanding landscape connectivity in small ground-dwelling mammals in the Pilbara, Western Australia. In prep. for submission to Heredity.
Shaw RE, Spencer P, Gibson L, Moritz C, Durrant B, Mokany K, Byrne M, Travouillon K, Davie H and Ottewell KM. 2021. A landscape approach to northern quoll conservation: from mechanism to process. Talk at The 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Mammal Society (online).
Shaw RE, Spencer P, Gibson L, Moritz C, Durrant B, Mokany K, Byrne M, Travouillon K, Davie H and Ottewell KM. 2021. A landscape approach to conservation: supporting resilient mammal communities in the Pilbara. Talk at The Biodiversity Conference in Perth, WA.
Shaw RE, Spencer P, Gibson L, Moritz C, Durrant B, Mokany K, Byrne M, Travouillon K, Davie H and Ottewell KM. 2021. Spatial genomic tools for conserving resilient mammal communities in the Pilbara. Invited speaker at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille (attended online).