KOALA NEWS & SCIENCE
An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.
Wild Koala Day May 3 is going to be big!
Organisers are calling all to share a pic of a wild koala, wear a gum leaf and tag #wildkoaladay. The website has a list of things to do, including register to plant a tree, sign a petition to protect a forest, or phone a pollie. http://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/what-to-do/
New conservation group formed to protect koalas in Raymond Island, East Gippsland 27 April
The Koala Island Foundation will be launched on Wild Koala Day May 3. The new group will source funding & volunteers, and advocate for koalas. The Paynesville Business and Tourism Authority, Raymond Island Landcare, Koalas of Raymond Island, the Abbey and Ride the Koalas are founding members.
The story featured on Win News Gippsland Media release
Bangalow Koalas completes biggest koala tree planting ever 22 April
5000 trees have been planted on a single property at Binna Burra, NSW, this year. These trees join 4000 planted in 2019. Planting is ongoing around Bangalow. Facebook
Online Koala Tree Planting Workshops a success 28 April
Experienced koala tree planting groups, Koala Clancy Foundation & Bangalow Koalas have run the first of 3 free online workshops for groups interested in, or planning koala tree planting projects. The next two workshops were full. Workshop
Eurobodalla Koalas launches new website 30 April
Koala included in shortlist for New Big 5 21 April
The public is asked to vote on their favourite five wild animals to photograph. https://www.newbig5.com
EPA under fire for approving logging without looking at koala impacts after bushfires 19 April
In this Sydney Morning Herald story by Peter Hannam, North East Forest Alliance spokesman Dailan Pugh said the EPA should first have assessed the effect of the fires on Banyabba Area of Regional Koala Significance. Sydney Morning Herald
Wild Koala Day mentioned in Forbes 22 April
A list of ways to “Save The World From Your Couch With These Global Earth Day Programs” in the global business news Link
LATEST KOALA SCIENCE
Charalambous, R. (2019) Understanding the physiological impacts of stress on the Australian marsupial species, the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus, within New South Wales and South Australia. Thesis. Western Sydney University. Link
The koala is currently listed by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction with a decreasing population trend. This listing can be attributed to both the recent climate trends impacting ecosystems, and human induced environmental change from extensive land clearing and habitat fragmentation. These have both been proven to induce stress, which in turn influences the onset of disease. This study performed a retrospective analysis whereby admission records for 12,543 wild, rescued koalas admitted into clinical care within New South Wales were studied in order to determine trends in clinical admissions and diagnosis over a period of 29 years. Results indicated that between all three locations (Port Stephens, Port Macquarie and Lismore), the most common prognosis for koalas admitted into care was disease, the most common disease for koalas admitted into care was signs of chlamydia, and the most common outcome for koalas admitted into care was released. Within Port Stephens, mature aged and female koalas were found to have more disease than any other age or gender, while juvenile aged and male koalas were found to be released more than any other age or gender. Additionally, there were fewer koalas with disease and fewer koalas released in Port Stephens as each year progressed. Within Port Macquarie, mature aged and male koalas were found to have more disease than any other age or gender, while juvenile aged and female koalas were found to be released more than any other age or gender. Additionally,there were more koalas with disease and fewer koalas released in Port Macquarie as each year progressed. Within Lismore, adult aged and female koalas were found to have more disease than any other age or gender, while joey aged and male koalas were found to be released more than any other age or gender. Additionally, there were more koalas with disease and fewer koalas released in Lismore as each year progressed. Determining trends in clinical admissions and diagnosis over such a substantial period of time is an important determinant for the continuing decline of koalas throughout Australia, and in particular New South Wales. It is integral that any further decline of koala populations is prevented, however this can only be achieved through informed recommendations through research projects such as these.
Al-Naji, A.; Tao, Y.; Smith, I.; Chahl, J. A Pilot Study for Estimating the Cardiopulmonary Signals of Diverse Exotic Animals Using a Digital Camera. Sensors 2019, 19, 5445. https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/19/24/5445
Monitoring the cardiopulmonary signal of animals is a challenge for veterinarians in conditions when contact with a conscious animal is inconvenient, difficult, damaging, distressing or dangerous to personnel or the animal subject. In this pilot study, we demonstrate a computer vision-based system and use examples of exotic, untamed species to demonstrate this means to extract the cardiopulmonary signal. Subject animals included the following species: Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), African lions (Panthera leo), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), red kangaroo (Macropus rufus), alpaca (Vicugna pacos), little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor), Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and Hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas). The study was done without need for restriction, fixation, contact or disruption of the daily routine of the subjects. The pilot system extracts the signal from the abdominal-thoracic region, where cardiopulmonary activity is most likely to be visible using image sequences captured by a digital camera. The results show motion on the body surface of the subjects that is characteristic of cardiopulmonary activity and is likely to be useful to estimate physiological parameters (pulse rate and breathing rate) of animals without any physical contact. The results of the study suggest that a fully controlled study against conventional physiological monitoring equipment is ethically warranted, which may lead to a novel approach to non-contact physiological monitoring and remotely sensed health assessment of animals. The method shows promise for applications in veterinary practice, conservation and game management, animal welfare and zoological and behavioral studies.
Gonzalez-Astudillo, V., Henning, J., Valenza, L. et al. A Necropsy Study of Disease and Comorbidity Trends in Morbidity and Mortality in the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus in South-East Queensland, Australia. Sci Rep 9, 17494 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53970-0
Koalas are an iconic Australian marsupial undergoing precipitous population reduction in South-East Queensland from complex interacting threats. To investigate the causes of death and the interaction of comorbidities with demography in South-East Queensland koalas, a large scale, high-throughput prospective necropsy survey was conducted spanning 2013–2016. During this period, 519 necropsies were conducted in 155 young/subadult koalas, 235 mature, 119 old koalas and 10 of unknown age. Similar numbers of males and females were assessed. Trauma and infectious disease at were the most common single diagnoses. However, comorbidity was frequent, including multicentric infection or infectious disease in combination with trauma or senescence. Female koalas had proportionally more reproductive chlamydiosis compared to males in which the ocular and urinary systems were more commonly affected. Comorbidity and disease were strongly associated with poor body condition, and trauma was associated with good body condition. Animals affected by motor vehicle trauma were often in better body condition than those affected by animal attack, tree fall or other causes of trauma. This study identified a higher frequency of infections and comorbidity then previously reported, confirming the complex nature of interacting threats to the koala population.
KOALA SCIENCE in brief
Bridie Kate Schultz 2019 The establishment of a Living Genome Resource Bank utilising genetic analysis and assisted breeding technology: a case study on the koala Phascolarctos cinereus Thesis, University of Queensland.
Marschner, C., Krockenberger, M.B. & Higgins, D.P. Effects of Eucalypt Plant Monoterpenes on Koala (Phascolarctos Cinereus) Cytokine Expression In Vitro. Sci Rep 9, 16545 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52713-5
Pettett, L., Wilson, G., Nicolson, V., Boardman, W., Speight, N., Fabijan, J., Trott, D. and Bird, P. (2019), Malocclusions in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Aust Vet J, 97: 473-481. https://doi.org/10.1111/avj.12863
Rhind Susan G. , Ellis Murray V. , Smith Martin Lunney Daniel (2014) Do Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus use trees planted on farms? A case study from north-west New South Wales, Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology 20, 302-312. https://doi.org/10.1071/PC140302
Biodiversity benefits are routinely cited as an outcome of planting trees on farms but there has been too little information to properly substantiate such claims. This study is among the first to examine the use of plantings by arboreal mammals. We examined an important inland koala population and its use of farm revegetation to determine: (1) if koalas use planted trees; (2) patch characteristics correlated with use/non-use by koalas; and, (3) contextual characteristics correlated with use/non-use. Surveys of koala dung, also known as scats or faecal pellets, were conducted under trees in 19 plantings. Fourteen showed signs of koalas and their pellets were recorded under 16 of the 25 tree taxa examined. All sizes and ages of trees were used, including the youngest plantings (six years). Considerable koala activity occurred in the various Eucalyptus species, but some tree species were not used. Koalas made substantial use of inland ironbark species, which are not listed as ‘koala food trees’ in government policy documents. Proximity to potential source populations of koalas was the strongest predictor of a planting being used, but this was further improved by including the age of the planting. There is extensive public funding available for restoration and land care activities. This study demonstrates that certain trees rapidly provide koala habitat when planted on farms and that the first priority should be restoring sites in close proximity to known koala populations. Tree species used should include local recognized food trees, as well as ironbarks and non-eucalyptus species that offer shelter.