Wildlife translocations are gaining acceptance as a valuable conservation tool for threatened Australian fauna. The 2019–2020 bushfire crisis has significantly affected koala habitat across four states, and translocations, when properly implemented, could facilitate the demographic and genetic recovery of affected populations. Current translocation policies lack an appropriate spatial framework to guide conservation actions and this could lead to unexpected or undesirable outcomes with the potential to hinder population recovery. To address these concerns, we propose development of a spatial framework based on knowledge of population genetic structure and population-specific dispersal patterns estimated from molecular data. At an operational level, application of a spatial genetic framework obviates the need to specify restrictive translocation limits, reduces reliance on subjective interpretations of population structure, and provides the potential to improve translocation success and conservation outcomes. We strongly encourage implementation of a spatial genetic framework and its integration into the decision-making process for selection and prioritisation of release sites for translocated koalas by wildlife carers, researchers and wildlife managers. The proposed framework would also support koala conservation and management more broadly.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3