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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Fascinating article comparing koala brain size and intelligence to other mammals 16 September
This article busts some myths about koala intelligence, shows that a koala’s brain size is average compared to other mammals, that brain size or smoothness is no indicator of intelligence.
Every Koala Counts film features at two film festivals
The 42 minute documentary about Friends of the Koala and the fight to save koalas in NSW will premiere at Byron Bay International Film Festival on 22 October, and has been selected for the International Social Change Film Festival.
Buy tickets to premiere: https://www.bbff.com.au/every-koala-counts?fbclid=IwAR3-ri93jFHiYgS7ehxD1o-Mb8fLg86jA29zcqy77v13-z10cEITd9Bliqc
Raffle for koalas in Gympie QLD
Win a 6 night stay at beautiful Blue Creek Retreat B&B in Kandanga, and support Koala Action Gympie Region. Tickets are just $5 each, or 15 tickets for $50, Prize drawn 15 December. Raffle tickets available to Qld, NSW, SA, Tas residents only.
Koala mother & joey reunited after 3 days of searching, Qld 19 September
Wildcare Australia shared this story of a koala joey found alone and wet at Mt Warren Park. 3 days of searching by wildlife carers and the community finally located the mother koala – the pair have been reunited and released.
1000 attend Narrandera Koala Festival NSW 22 September
The event held on 17 September at Narrandera Showground featured a koala & nature photography exhibition, information stalls, and a wild koala tour. The Dinawans Connection Indigenous Dancers performed. Koala tours to Rocky Waterholes provided by guides from the Narrandera Koala Regeneration Advisory Committee were fully booked. Organisers hope the festival will become a permanent annual event.
Tips to keep koalas safe as breeding season peaks in the north 2 September
A short video from MyGC to help people on the Gold Coast protect koalas.
Koala breeding season awareness in Gympie QLD 10 September
Advice from Koala Action Gympie region in local newspaper for Save The Koala Month.
Lullaby for Save The Koala Month
September was Save The Koala Month, and a new lullaby by Donna Dyson was launched in celebration.
Koala shelters in 2 year old tree on Burbi Koala Reserve, Tweed NSW 26 September
3000 trees were planted by Tweed Coast Koalas and Friends of Cudgen Nature Reserve on the property at Pottsville 2 years ago. On a hot day recently members of Tweed Coast Koalas were delighted to see a female koala resting in one of the Swamp Mahogany trees.
LATEST KOALA SCIENCE:
MAGUIRE, S., CRAWFORD, A., MASAMERY, L., MIKITARIAN, M. and PSZENICZNY, J., 7. Wildfires and Specialists: A Deadly Connection. Bio si, p.102.
Wildfires burn through regions across the globe each season, which impacts biodiversity levels in these areas. Example areas particularly affected by wildfires are California, United States, and South Wales, Australia. Specialist species are organisms that are adapted to one specific environment. Therefore, specialist species are at substantial risk from wildfires because they cannot adapt to other environments. Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in South Wales and pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) in California are specialist species with populations that have been declining as a result of an increase in wildfires. The research was intended to spread awareness and produce practical solutions to promote population growth among these species. Educational programs, advertisements, and controlled burns are ways to help alleviate the damage to these vulnerable populations
Joyce BA, Blyton MD, Johnston SD, Meikle WD, Vinette Herrin K, Madden C, Young PR and Chappell KJ 2022. Diversity and transmission of koala retrovirus: a case study in three captive koala populations. Scientific Reports , 12 (1), pp.1-8.
Koala retrovirus is a recently endogenized retrovirus associated with the onset of neoplasia and infectious disease in koalas. There are currently twelve described KoRV subtypes (KoRV-A to I, K–M), most of which were identified through recently implemented deep sequencing methods which reveal an animals’ overall KoRV profile. This approach has primarily been carried out on wild koala populations around Australia, with few investigations into the whole-population KoRV profile of captive koala colonies to date. This study conducted deep sequencing on 64 captive koalas of known pedigree, housed in three institutions from New South Wales and South-East Queensland, to provide a detailed analysis of KoRV genetic diversity and transmission. The final dataset included 93 unique KoRV sequences and the first detection of KoRV-E within Australian koala populations. Our analysis suggests that exogenous transmission of KoRV-A, B, D, I and K primarily occurs between dam and joey. Detection of KoRV-D in a neonate sample raises the possibility of this transmission occurring in utero. Overall, the prevalence and abundance of KoRV subtypes was found to vary considerably between captive populations, likely due to their different histories of animal acquisition. Together these findings highlight the importance of KoRV profiling for captive koalas, in particular females, who play a primary role in KoRV exogenous transmission.
B Law, C Slade, L Gonsalves, T Brassil, C Flanagan and I Kerr Tree use by koalas after timber harvesting in a mosaic landscape. Wildlife Research .
Context: A better understanding of how individual animals use their habitat after disturbance can help optimise management practices for their conservation. Forestry is one such disturbance for koalas that operates under regulations based on best available information to minimise impacts.
Aims: This study aimed to investigate tree use by koalas in a mosaic of young, regenerating trees after timber harvest and mature trees in adjacent exclusion zones.
Methods: Tracking collars using very high frequency radio and Global Positioning System transmitters were used to track 10 koalas (five males, five females) across all seasons in three forests, 5–10 years after timber harvesting as regulated by practices current at that time. Tree use was compared to availability based on basal area in different parts of the forest.
Key results: We tracked koalas to 429 day-trees and 70 night-trees during this time. Males and females displayed little difference in tree use. Blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis and turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera were the most commonly used species during the day, but blackbutt was ranked with the highest preference relative to tree availability. Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys was by far the most commonly used tree at night. Koalas used a broad range of tree sizes during the day and night, but most often used medium-sized trees, with preferences for a diameter of 30–60 cm (slightly smaller at night). Koalas used all topographic positions in the landscape, but more than half of the trees used were in lower topographic areas (gullies and lower slopes). Areas mapped as having previous heavy timber harvesting were the most used forest category, followed by riparian exclusion zones.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that koalas commonly used trees regenerating after harvest, although preferences for medium-sized trees and tallowwood as a night browse tree suggest current forestry regulations can be fine-tuned by retaining a greater proportion of these features.
Implications: Because most trees were used only once, our results support the view and current practice of retaining habitat patches, such as exclusion zones and wildlife clumps (triggered by a koala habitat model), to provide a mix of species and size classes for both food and shelter. A review of tree size and species retention is recommended.
KOALA SCIENCE IN BRIEF:
Strange, N., 2022. Investigating the role of the HtrA protease in chlamydial biology and the therapeutic potential of a HtrA inhibitor (Doctoral dissertation). https://opus.lib.uts.edu.au/handle/10453/161777
Lunney, D., Lemon, J., Crowther, M.S., Stalenberg, E., Ross, K. and Wheeler, R., 2012, July. An ecological approach to koala conservation in a mined landscape. In Life-of-Mine Conference (pp. 345-354).
Gunnedah, in north-western New South Wales (NSW), including the town, the surrounding Liverpool Plains and the Pilliga forests to the west, are currently the subject of intense mining interest for coal and coal seam gas. Achieving positive outcomes for koala conservation on mined landscapes will require a sound grasp of koala ecology; and local knowledge of koala movements, tree choice and associated threats to the continued survival of koalas, particularly roadkill from increased mining infrastructure. This requires a research-oriented approach to testing ideas applicable to the long-term survival of koala populations. Our recent koala research in NSW has shown that, in 2006, Gunnedah had the largest koala population west of the Great Dividing Range, and the only population in NSW that was expanding. That prompted us to instigate a detailed study in 2008 – 2011 to determine, inter alia, whether the koalas were using trees that were planted in the 1990s to cope with rising soil salinity. Our GPS-tracking has shown that regrowth trees as young as ten years old can attract koalas. In 2009, the demise of about a quarter of the local koala population from an intense heatwave gave us a foretaste of how habitat and climate change interrelate at the landscape scale. We are now examining the optimal combinations of tree choice, and patch size and shape, for habitat restoration. This will be relevant to local coal seam gas and coal mine proposals, and ongoing mitigation actions. The Senate enquiry of September 2011 on the koala and demonstrated the intense public interest in the survival of this iconic species. Its subsequent listing for Queensland and NSW under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 further raises its profi le and obligations for management of koalas and their habitat. It will take considerable effort to manage the Liverpool Plains koala population for the next 50 years in the face of extensive land-use changes from mining, and the attendant threats from road kill, compounded by the new threat of climate change manifesting itself as an increased frequency of heatwaves and more severe droughts. This paper describes the research that underpins these conclusions, identifies some of the research approaches needed, argues for working strategically now, rather than try to patch up matters after the event, and presents a set of guides for environmental plantings.
re: flooding effect on koalas p. 349:
“Over the course of the project, the region also experienced a major flood. The impact of floods on koalas is yet to be determined, and no previous studies have been conducted on the impact of floods on koalas from which to draw comparison. However, it is unlikely that the floods would have benefitted the koalas. On the contrary, the floods almost certainly restricted movements, limited feeding opportunities, and may have weakened the koalas thereby rendering them more vulnerable to disease and predation.”
Previous Koala News & Science here: http://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/koala-news-science/koala-news-science-august-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 firstname.lastname@example.org before 29th of each month for possible inclusion.