The South Australian Government is committed to the establishment of five biodiversity corridors linking public and private lands across the State by 2010 as Target 3.4 in South Australia’s Strategic Plan (DPC 2004).
This target is linked to the NatureLinks initiative and Wilderness Society's WildCountry program, which has an ambition to ensure environmental connectivity and flows at a continental scale. Information about the extent of environmental connectivity will be vital in assessing the potential for species range shifts to occur in the face of human-induced climate change, which is projected to change patterns of biodiversity over time scales as short as decades.
The NatureLinks - East meets West Corridor in particular aims to connect fragmented mallee communities on the Eyre Peninsula with the more continuous mallee to the north.
Before physical connections can be made, the potential role of remnant vegetation in making those connections needs to be understood. The tops of sand dunes have been left uncleared in many agricultural landscapes on the Eyre Peninsula.
These remnants provide a good model system to investigate the role of “stepping-stone” habitat patches in promoting connectivity across the landscape. In our mallee fragmentation projects, we are examining the use of remnant, dune-top mallee by plants and ground-dwelling vertebrates. The projects will also examine the potential for roadside vegetation to provide connections between dunes.