Austin O'Malley

Austin O'Malley

Abstract 1 | Application of connectivity modelling to highly fragmented urban landscapes at local scales

Habitat connectivity is increasingly seen as a requirement for effective conservation of wildlife populations in fragmented landscapes, especially in highly fragmented urban landscapes. Estimating where there is connectivity across the landscape is a complex task which can be aided by the application of ecological models. These can be used as part of the suite of tools used by government and land managers to manage and conserve biodiversity and address complex questions relating to the movement of wildlife. However, current connectivity modelling methods are usually the domain of academia and rarely applied at the local scale.

In this paper we describe an approach for assessing connectivity which includes: selecting species and parameterising species through an expert workshop and modelling connectivity identifying optimal pathways and corridors between patches, using a graph theoretic approach for characterising the importance of patches and linkages and Circuitscape to characterise the importance of particular areas within corridors for promoting dispersal. We use a case study from a consultancy project in the municipalities of Brimbank and Hume to demonstrate the application of this method.

The case study is used to demonstrate the importance of fine scale connectivity elements such as linear roadside vegetation for providing connectivity at the landscape scale in urban environments. We also demonstrate how linear development such as roads may impact on connectivity, ways in which we can model mitigation, and how we can use improved spatial inputs to more accurately model fine scale habitat connectivity.

We conclude by summarising how such projects can be applied by land managers in order to compile and collect data to address a set of principles for connectivity and guide conservation and development.

Bio | Austin O’Malley

Dr Austin O’Malley is an ecologist with over 15 years of experience in environmental management and research and has worked as an ecological consultant in Victoria for over 10 years. His professional services have focused on fulfilling environmental statutory approvals and providing expert advice relating to ecological impacts and biodiversity management for public and private clients. He has a comprehensive knowledge of Victoria’s flora and fauna, threatened species, and vegetation communities and has extensive experience in delivering ecological surveys.

Austin has strong professional interests in assessing and mitigating development impacts on wildlife populations and habitat connectivity, ecosystem restoration, dispersal ecology, and wildlife movement. Austin has completed a PhD in ecosystem management at the University of New England, a BSc (Hons) in ecology at the University of Queensland, and a Bachelor of Science/Arts from La Trobe University majoring in Zoology and Botany.