KOALA NEWS & SCIENCE
An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.
Subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/808fc4af1ee0/koala-news-science
Wild Koala Day on again 3 May Australia-wide
Groups all around Australia are running events for Wild Koala Day. There’s still time to get involved. Email your event to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pine Rivers Koala Care public event
- Eurobodalla Koalas habitat survey
- Koala Clancy Foundation weeding day
Koala tree plantations in northern NSW survive flooding 23 March
Some of Bangalow Koalas tree plantations have survived the north NSW flooding. Of their 9 properties affected by floods, 2 have been assessed at Tintenbar and some trees have survived. Assessments are ongoing. A flood recovery cleanup on 12-13 March was successful, with more to come thanks to funding from WWF and IFAW.
After nearly 20 years, Victorian government finally drafts koala management strategy
Horribly overdue, the Victorian government has finally released their first draft koala management strategy since 2004. Full of weak aims and priorities that show koalas are still regarded as an inconvenience, it is possibly still better than having nothing.
Comment closes 3 April: https://engage.vic.gov.au/VKMS
Gunnedah koalas to receive chlamydia booster NSW 17 March
University of Sydney scientists are planning to vaccinate 50 wild koalas with a stronger dose, after disappointing results from the September 2020 vaccination.
Fighting climate change and fire risk by planting trees VIC 1 March
Koala Clancy Foundation is managing the climate and fire risk to Western Plains koalas by planting trees in river valleys.
8 Indigenous dance groups come together for koala conservation NSW 18 March
Dance groups from the Birrbay, Warrimay, Dhanggati and Gumbaynggirr Nations came together for koala conservation at Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council in Port Macquarie on 18 March.
Koala tree giveaway starts NSW 28 March
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s annual koala tree giveaway runs from 28 March until Saturday 2 April.
Gold Coast moves to reduce koala road deaths QLD 3 March
Council pledges to increase efforts to avoid koala road fatalities after new figures released show 10 worst roads for koala deaths.
Public forum on koalas in Sutherland NSW 11 March
Forum hosted by independent candidate Linda Seymour, was held on March 13 and featured local documentary film makers and citizen scientists.
LATEST KOALA SCIENCE:
Frere, C., O’Reilly, G., Strickland, K., Schultz, A., Hohwieler, K., Hanger, J., de Villiers, D., Cristescu, R., Powell, D. and Sherwin, W., 2022. Immediate and long-term genetic consequences of linear transport infrastructure: can fauna crossing mitigate its cost?. Authorea Preprints.
Linear infrastructure stands as one of the main culprits of anthropogenically caused biodiversity decline. As it fragments landscapes, it ultimately results in a myriad of direct and indirect ecological consequences for wildlife. As transportation networks will continue to grow under increasing human population growth, biodiversity will continue to decline making the need to understand and mitigate their impact on species an urgent need for conservation worldwide. The implementation of mitigation measures to alleviate the barrier effect produced by linear transport infrastructure on local fauna is not new, and research has shown that their effectiveness has been shown to be influenced by their design, their placement and the biology of the impacted species. Our understanding of their effectiveness in preventing the longer-term impacts of linear transport infrastructure on habitat connectivity via gene flow, however, remains poorly understood. Here, we used a pre- and post-habitat fragmentation genetic dataset collected as part of an extensive Koala Management Program to ask questions about the immediate and predicted longer-term genetic consequences of linear transport infrastructure on the impacted species. Importantly, using forward migration simulations, we show that to preserve connectivity would need to result in around 20% of the population mixing to avoid long-term genetic drift. These results have important consequences for the management of species at the forefront of linear infrastructure. In particular, the study shows the importance of considering gene flow in our assessment of the effectiveness of fauna crossings.
Lunney, D., Cope, H., Sonawane, I., Stalenberg, E. and Haering, R., An analysis of the long-term trends in the records of Friends of the Koala in north-east New South Wales: I. cause and fate of koalas admitted for rehabilitation (1989-2020). Pacific Conservation Biology.
Context: The koala is a threatened species in NSW and long-term datasets of koala rehabilitation provide a valuable source of insight into local threats. Aims: To examine the long-term trends of the cause and fate of koalas admitted for rehabilitation to assist both monitoring the recovery of koala populations and provide a new outlook on the limitations and strengths of rehabilitation records for koala conservation. Methods: We used data from long-term records (1989-2020) of the Friends of the Koala (FoK) wildlife rehabilitation group in north-east NSW to identify spatial and temporal trends in 5,051 koala admissions. Key results: Chlamydiosis was the most common cause of admission. Admissions of female koalas with chlamydiosis showed a two-fold increase over summer, and admissions for motor vehicle collisions and unsuitable environment increased in spring. The rescue locations of admissions show an increasing geographic spread over time. Admission body scores were higher in koalas that were eventually released than in non-released koalas. Besides chlamydiosis, other diseases and motor vehicle collisions, the other main causes of admission were unsuitable environments, dog attacks, abandonment/ orphaning and attacks from other species. Conclusions: We have produced an analysis and interpretation of a long-term dataset of the relative importance of various threats facing the local koala population. However, admissions to rehabilitation do not capture all the landscape-scale problems confronting koalas locally, particularly climate change and habitat loss. Implications: We have provided the baseline necessary to detect future changes in the causes for admission, rates of rehabilitation and post-release survival.
Lunney, D., Cope, H., Sonawane, I., Stalenberg, E. and Haering, R., An analysis of the long-term koala rehabilitation records of Friends of the Koala in north-east New South Wales: II. post-release survival. Pacific Conservation Biology.
Context: Post-release monitoring of rehabilitated koalas is lacking, meaning that the long-term success rate is unknown. Aims: We addressed the question: will a koala released from rehabilitation re-join the wild population and survive for months, if not years? Methods: Using ear tag records as unique identifiers of individual koalas, we sifted the 31-year set of 5051 koala admission records (1989-2020) of a koala rehabilitation group, Friends of the Koala, in Lismore, north-east NSW for records of koalas that had returned to rehabilitation for a second, third or fourth time. Key results: Of the 1771 koalas that were released, most (80%) had a coloured ear tag with a unique number. Of these koalas, 270 were admitted to rehabilitation two or more times and therefore represented an opportunity for post-release monitoring. Readmission figures mostly fitted the pattern of first admissions, meaning that the released koalas had become part of the local koala population. Of the 270 koalas that were readmitted into rehabilitation, 66% remained for more than 6 months in the wild, and 33% remained in the wild for more than 2 years. Conclusions: We conclude that rehabilitated and released koalas can survive in the wild long-term, even though some koalas were readmitted after a very brief period post-release. Implications: The success of rehabilitation and release, as judged by readmitted tagged koalas, is a more robust view of success for koala survival after rehabilitation than simply the proportion of released versus non-released koalas.
Koala & Related Science In Brief:
Marti, H. and Jelocnik, M., 2022. Animal Chlamydiae: A Concern for Human and Veterinary Medicine. Pathogens, 11(3), p.364.
Ren, W., Ju, X., Gong, M., Lan, J., Yu, Y., Long, Q., Kenney, D.J., O’Connell, A.K., Zhang, Y., Zhong, J. and Zhong, G., 2022. Characterization of SARS-CoV-2 Variants B. 1.617. 1 (Kappa), B. 1.617. 2 (Delta), and B. 1.618 by Cell Entry and Immune Evasion. Mbio, pp.e00099-22.
Law, B., Gonsalves, L., Burgar, J., Brassil, T., Kerr, I., O’Loughlin, C., Eichinski, P. and Roe, P., 2022. Regulated timber harvesting does not reduce koala density in north-east forests of New South Wales. Scientific Reports, 12(1), pp.1-13.
Wedrowicz, F., Wright, W., Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F. and Cahir, F., 2017. Landscape, koalas and people: A historical account of koala populations and their environment in South Gippsland. Australian Zoologist, 38(4), pp.518-536. https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2017.007
We present an ecological history of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population and its environment in South Gippsland, Victoria, both pre- and post- European settlement. We consider the role that the region’s history may have had on the genetic structure of the current koala population in South Gippsland, which is the only known koala population in Victoria that does not originate from animals re-introduced as part of the Victorian translocation program.
Following European colonisation of Australia, a range of anthropogenic factors, including hunting for the fur trade, resulted in widespread population declines for the koala. In Victoria, the situation was extreme. Currently, many koala populations in Victoria are derived from only a few individuals which existed less than 120 years ago. These populations therefore have comparatively low genetic diversity, a factor that plays a key role in long term population viability.
In Victoria, the koala is not listed as a threatened species. Despite the low genetic diversity of most populations, the species is widely distributed across the state, and relatively common. Indeed, some populations are considered overabundant. However, many koala populations are not abundant, and population data are lacking for most. The South Gippsland koala population is of high conservation significance as it has greater genetic diversity compared to other Victorian populations, though there is little additional data to inform its conservation.
An improved understanding of genetic diversity and gene flow between populations across the koala’s range is required to guide the conservation of genetic diversity in this species. Monitoring population size, health and genetic relationships both within and between koala populations will enable better conservation outcomes.
Previous Koala News & Science here: http://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/koala-news-science/koala-news-science-february-2022/
Written by Janine Duffy President, Koala Clancy Foundation.
with support from Cheryl Egan, Organiser, Wild Koala Day.
Please send your positive, important news & publications to email@example.com before 29th of each month for possible inclusion.