Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 663–679 | Cite as

Time-delayed influence of urban landscape change on the susceptibility of koalas to chlamydiosis

  • Clive McAlpine
  • Grant Brearley
  • Jonathan Rhodes
  • Adrian Bradley
  • Greg Baxter
  • Leonie Seabrook
  • Daniel Lunney
  • Yan Liu
  • Manuelle Cottin
  • Andrew G. Smith
  • Peter Timms
Research Article



Infectious diseases are important in the dynamics of many wildlife populations, but there is limited understanding of how landscape change influences susceptibility to disease.


We aimed to quantify the time-delayed influence of spatial and temporal components of landscape change and climate variability on the prevalence of chlamydiosis in koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations in southeast Queensland, Australia.


We used data collected over 14 years (n = 9078 records) from a koala hospital along with time-lagged measures of landscape change and rainfall to conduct spatial and temporal analyses of the influence of landscape and environmental variables on prevalence of chlamydiosis and koala body condition.


Areas with more suitable habitat were associated with higher levels of disease prevalence and better body condition, indicating that koalas were less likely to be impacted by chlamydiosis. More intact landscapes with higher proportions of total habitat are associated with a reduction in prevalence of chlamydiosis and a decrease in body condition. Increased annual rainfall contributed to a decrease in prevalence of chlamydiosis and an increase in body condition. Urbanization was associated with an increase in disease, however the effects of urban landscape change and climate variability on chlamydiosis may not manifest until several years later when overt disease impacts the population via effects upon body condition and reproductive success.


Our study highlights the importance of effects of landscape change and climate variability on disease prevalence in wildlife. This recognition is essential for long-term conservation planning, especially as disease often interacts with other threats.


Wildlife disease Body condition Habitat loss Chlamydiosis Time lags Climate variability Phascolarctos cinereus 



We gratefully acknowledge the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection for funding this study. Many thanks to Hawthorne Beyer, Harriet Preece and Chris Moon for their comments and edits. The input of three anonymous reviewers greatly improved the quality of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10980_2016_479_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Supplementary Table S1 (DOCX 31 kb)
10980_2016_479_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (2.3 mb)
Online Appendix (PPTX 2372 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clive McAlpine
    • 1
    • 2
  • Grant Brearley
    • 1
  • Jonathan Rhodes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Adrian Bradley
    • 3
  • Greg Baxter
    • 1
  • Leonie Seabrook
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Lunney
    • 4
    • 5
  • Yan Liu
    • 1
  • Manuelle Cottin
    • 1
  • Andrew G. Smith
    • 4
  • Peter Timms
    • 6
  1. 1.Landscape Ecology and Conservation Group, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental ManagementThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation ScienceUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biomedical SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Office of Environment and Heritage NSWHurstvilleAustralia
  5. 5.School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Faculty of Science, Health, Education and EngineeringUniversity of the Sunshine CoastSunshine CoastAustralia

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