KOALA NEWS & SCIENCE
An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.
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Koala rally in Melbourne VIC 19 November
16 Koala and forest advocacy groups came together at a public rally to present a list of urgent demands to save Victorian koalas – the Koala Commandments – to the Victorian Premier’s office on 19 November. The group has raised concerns about the lack of a state koala strategy, and called to end native forest logging.
Development overturned at Woronora Heights NSW 9 November
Sydney Water have agreed not to proceed with planned housing subdivision on a koala corridor near Heathcote NP, after residents lobbied against the proposal. The community group Woronora Heights and Engadine Wildlife Corridor Preservation Group will continue to pursue their objective to have the area rezoned environmental conservation to protect the koalas and other wildlife.
NSW Premier warned about reopening ‘koala wars’ 14 November
Liberal politicians in teal-threatened seats threatened to cross the floor over the new private native forestry bill. Simon Holmes a Court warned that the bill was a gift to the teal movement.
Ollie the Cordeaux dam koala, released NSW 3 November
The male koala rescued from the Cordeaux dam near Wollongong in early October has been treated, checked for chlamydia, and safely released.
Calls to ban koala cuddling in QLD 29 November
World Animal Protection have called for an end to koala cuddling in zoos due to animal cruelty concerns and changing public attitudes.
NSW Koala update – 14 & 28 November
An interesting discussion of NSW koala population trends between DPI scientist Brad Law and Greens MP Sue Higginson
4000 ha of bushland habitat protected in Hunter NSW 10 November
Philanthropists Jane & Andrew Clifford have bought 4000 hectares of bushland, including koala habitat, to be managed by Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
New Koala advocacy group in Sydney region NSW 24 November
Sydney Basin Koala Network has been formed by Total Environment Centre with funding from WIRES. The group will focus on community awareness and bringing koala protection to the front of the political agenda.
November is Koala month in Logan QLD 4 November
Across the region, a koala-focussed family day was held on November 12, locals were encourage to submit koala signs or sightings to the annual Logan Koala count on iNaturalist, and Griffith University encouraged residents to send in koala scat.
Special offer for koala lovers in Port Stephens NSW 14 November
Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary encourage Koala Crusaders to buy an annual pass as a Christmas gift, entitling the bearer to free entry all year and discounts on food, merchandise and accommodation. The Sanctuary also won a prestigious award at the NSW Tourism Awards.
LATEST KOALA SCIENCE:
Gardiner, R., Terraube, J., Frere, C. and Cristescu, R., 2022. Roads and water availability influence the occurrence of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in secondary habitat: a multiscale approach. Biodiversity and Conservation, pp.1-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-022-02493-8
Given the high proportion of Earth’s ecosystems already anthropogenically modified, especially through clearing, it is critical we determine whether species can persist outside of their primary habitat as a means of ensuring population persistence in the remaining landscape. The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) has been heavily impacted by habitat loss through clearing, and recently upgraded to endangered across its eastern distribution. It is timely to understand what variables may influence the occurrence of koalas in secondary habitat, which can then guide conservation efforts. We surveyed 959 sites with detection dogs to determine the occurrence of koalas through the presence of scats. Using GLMMs, we accounted for environmental and anthropogenic variables that may influence koala occurrence, meanwhile focusing on the use of secondary eucalyptus forests at multiple spatial scales (250, 500, 1500 m radii). Overall koala occurrence was negatively associated with secondary eucalyptus forests compared to primary forests, while there was no effect of total forest area present at any scale. However, we found interactive effects between secondary forest and (1) distance from the closest major road at the smallest landscape scale (250 m radii) and (2) water area at the larger landscape scales (500 m, 1500 m radii). This suggests that occurrence of koalas in secondary forests are predicted to increase when the distance to major roads, and the water area, increase. While protecting primary eucalyptus forests should always be a prioritisation for the conservation of koalas, our results emphasize the important role that secondary eucalyptus forests can play in conservation, as long as these are carefully considered in the landscape context to maximise restoration investments.
Pahuja, H.K. and Narayan, E.J., 2022. Comparing the agreement of a commercial cortisol kit with a biologically validated assay in evaluating faecal cortisol metabolite levels in koala joeys. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, p.111353.
Orphaned koala joeys constitute a substantial number of wildlife rescues. Mortality is highly prevalent in rehabilitating joeys, with little knowledge about the causes of mortality. The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis plays a vital role in mediating stress by producing glucocorticoids (e.g. cortisol), however, no studies have quantified glucocorticoids in koala joeys. Traditional cortisol enzyme immuno-assay (e.g. R4866) are limited in supply and are process intensive, whereas, modern enzyme immuno-assay (EIA) kits (e.g. Arbor Assay cortisol kit) are available world-wide and provide rapid results. Biological validation is unsuitable to be performed in recuperating joeys due to ethical considerations, hence, we compared the results from biologically validated R4866 assay with the commercially available Arbor Assay cortisol kit. Thirty-four faecal samples were collected, processed and analysed for faecal cortisol metabolites (FCM) using both, R4866 assay and Arbor Assay kit. The joeys presented a suite of clinical conditions which provided the natural variation in stress response for comparing the assay sensitivity and range. The results indicated that there were no significant differences between the FCM values measured by both the assays. Furthermore, the Bland-Altman plot indicated a very strong agreement between the FCM concentrations measured by the two assays. This study is only a step towards recommending the routine use of commercial kit in clinical settings with basic resources, for rapid quantification of stress in koala patients. It is crucial for future studies to perform laboratory validation procedures to confirm the efficacy of the commercial kit before practical use for FCM monitoring in koalas.
Oliveros, A., Terraube, J., Levengood, A., Powell, D. and Frere, C., 2022. Influence of scat ageing on the gut microbiome. Authorea Preprints.
The study of the host-microbiome by the collection of non-invasive samples has the potential to become a powerful tool for conservation monitoring and surveillance of wildlife. However, multiple factors can bias the quality of data recovered from scats, particularly when field-collected samples are used given that the time of defecation is generally unknown and could have been as recent as hours, days, or weeks. Previous studies using scats have shown that exposure to aerobic conditions can compromise the microbial composition and that this rate of exposure differs between species. However, the impact that this aging process has on the relationship between the bacterial and fungal composition has yet to be explored. In this study, we measured the effects of time post-defecation on bacterial and fungal compositions and structures in a controlled experiment using scat sample from the endangered koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). We found that targeting the core of the scat for DNA extraction reduced the impact of oxygen exposure as we did not observe the previously reported reduction in obligate anaerobic bacteria nor an increase in facultative anaerobes even after aging for 10 days. We found that even though bacteria remain stable through the scat aging process, the fungal composition did not. We report a cluster of fungal taxa that colonises scats after defecation which can dilute the genetic material from the autochthonous mycoflora and inhibit recovery. Finally, we propose strategies to combat the effects of time and preserve the integrity of a scat sample collected in the wild.
KOALA SCIENCE IN BRIEF:
Mathews, K.O., 2022. The role of Australian native wildlife in Q fever (Doctoral dissertation). https://hdl.handle.net/2123/29733
Rundle-Thiele, S. (2022), “A reflection on motivating community action to protect an endangered species using marketing“, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 56 No. 9, pp. 2558-2572. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-03-2022-0146
Phillips, S.S., 2000. Population trends and the koala conservation debate. Conservation Biology, 14(3), pp.650-659.
A critical issue affecting the long-term management of koalas is their perceived conservation status. Koalas still occur in many areas throughout their historical range, but numbers of animals are estimated to vary from <100,000 to at least one order of magnitude higher. Complex factors limit free-ranging koala populations, including food tree preferences, history of disturbance, and Chlamydia infection, all of which make longer-term population trends of many populations difficult to predict. Lack of consensus regarding the size and viability of remaining populations and regarding the extent of and reasons for decline, overabundance or in some instances, hinders the conservation task. A reappraisal of population trends suggests that, notwithstanding localized management issues in Victoria and South Australia, overall the species is “vulnerable” on the basis of current World Conservation Union criteria. Recommendations for more effective conservation of koalas include (1) acknowledging the legitimacy of differing perspectives, (2) recognizing the uncertainty and assumptions inherent in population estimates and trends, (3) applying greater rigor and developing better standards for monitoring population trends, and (4) being cautious in assigning conservation status to national, state, and regional populations.
Previous Koala News & Science here: http://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/koala-news-science/koala-news-science-october-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.