Adams-Hosking C, CA McAlpine, JR Rhodes, PT Moss and H Grantham (2014) Prioritizing regions to conserve a specialist folivore: considering probability of occurrence, food resources, and climate change. CONSERVATION LETTERS (Online)

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For species that are increasingly threatened by the combined impacts of habitat loss and climate change, the identification of priority regions for conservation planning efforts is urgently required. In the case of specialist folivores, consideration of the effects of climate change on the distributions of their essential food resources should be a key component of conservation planning. The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) was listed in 2012 as vulnerable under Australian Commonwealth Government law. Here, we incorporate species distribution models for the koala, an arboreal marsupial, and its specialized food resources, to identify broad-scale priority conservation regions. We demonstrate a spatial prioritization approach that informs conservation planning and that links the shifting distribution of this declining species and its critical food resources under climate change. We find that the inclusion of food plants affected the identification of priority regions for conserving koalas, and that priority regions for the conservation of this species are predicted to shift considerably, often outside the current range of this species, posing additional challenges for its conservation.