Broad-scale habitat fragmentation is a visible result of human land-use throughout the world, often resulting in deleterious ecological outcomes. The ability of fauna to persist in fragmented landscapes is influenced by their capacity to move and access important resources such as food, water and shelter. When resources are depleted and spatially heterogeneous, identifying high quality habitat patches and understanding how individuals move through the landscape is critical for effective faunal conservation and management.
Phillip Island, located south of Australia, is a highly modified and fragmented landscape that contains patches of native vegetation amongst a matrix of agricultural farmland and urban developments. The island supports an abundant population of swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor), but little is known about how individuals move through this landscape. We developed and tested an inexpensive custom-made GPS wildlife tracker that sends data via the mobile phone network. High-resolution movement data gained from the trackers enabled us to highlight features that facilitate movement and others that represent barriers. Further we modeled how wallabies move both within and between landscape patches and select resources. Information about movement patterns and resource selection generated by the analysis will inform and improve the management of swamp wallabies in human-modified and fragmented landscapes and more generally enhance our understanding of the challenges faced by fauna in changing environments worldwide.