KOALA NEWS & SCIENCE
An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.
Support for Koala research from WIRES Bushfire Relief 11 July
As a result of donations from the Black Summer Bushfires, WIRES have pledged a 3 year, $1 million grant that will sustain University of Sydney’s Koala Health Hub.
Drone surveys for koalas 250% more efficient 7 July
Testing of new drone & heat signature survey methods finds 1 koala per 2 hours, compared to 1 koala per 7 hours by walk-spotlight-visual methods, in Port Stephens NSW.
Koala Road Sign competition encourages drivers to slow down 31 July
Koalas survived fires in Bulga Forest, near Gloucester NSW 30 July
Evidence of at least 3 koalas found by community members, and surviving old growth trees in Bulga Forest burnt in Black Summer bushfires.
Educational video series focus on koala threats & recovery in NSW Mid Coast 6 July
Mid Coast Council have produced a series of videos, including one about koalas, in collaboration with Koalas In Care.
Great Lakes Advocate
Development proposal on koala habitat in north Brisbane to go to court 27 July
A planning proposal on a 3 ha bushland site at Bridgeman Downs, home to koalas, squirrel gliders & grey goshawk, was twice rejected by council. Developers are appealing the decision in court. Locals are calling on council to buy the land.
Brisbane Times and: ABC News
RAAF & Port Stephens Koalas planting 10,000 trees to feed koalas in care NSW 3 July
The partnership is planting trees at vacant Defence sites, to provide browse to new koala hospital at Anna Bay.
Port Stephens Examiner
5.4km of koala corridors to be planted near Bathurst NSW 8 July
Skillset & The Environmental Factor will plant thousands of trees around Rockley Mount funded by a NSW Environmental Trust grant.
Some improvement in conditions for koalas at Gunnedah 27 June
Scientists optimistic that wild koala chlamydia trial will go ahead by September due to rainfall improving health of koalas
Namoi Valley Independent
LATEST KOALA SCIENCE
Beranek Chad T., Roff Adam, Denholm Bob, Howell Lachlan G., Witt Ryan R. (2020) Trialling a real-time drone detection and validation protocol for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Australian Mammalogy Mgmt.
Remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), or drone, technology has emerged as a promising survey method for the cryptic koala. We demonstrate an in-field protocol for wild koala RPAS surveys which provides real-time validation of thermal signatures. During 15 trial flights using a quadcopter drone (DJI Matrice 200 v2) we successfully detected and validated koala thermal signatures (n = 12) using two in-field approaches: validation by on-ground observer (n = 10) and validation using 4K footage captured and reviewed directly after the survey (n = 2). We also provide detectability considerations relative to survey time, temperature, wildlife–RPAS interactions and detection of non-target species, which can be used to further inform RPAS survey protocols.
Speight, N., Bacci, B., Stent, A. and Whiteley, P. (2020), Histological survey for oxalate nephrosis in Victorian koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus ). Aust Vet J.
The iconic Australian marsupial, the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), has suffered dramatic population declines as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, disease, vehicle collision mortality, dog attacks, bushfires and climate change. In 2012, koalas were officially declared vulnerable by the Australian government and listed as a threatened species. In response, research into diseases affecting koalas has expanded rapidly. The two major pathogens affecting koalas are Chlamydia pecorum, leading to chlamydial disease, and Koala Retrovirus (KoRV). In the last eight years, these pathogens and their diseases have received focused study regarding their sources, genetics, prevalence, disease presentation and transmission. This has led to vast improvements in pathogen detection and treatment, including the ongoing development of vaccines for each as a management and control strategy. This review will summarize and highlight the important advances made in understanding and combating C. pecorum and KoRV in koalas, since they were declared a threatened species. With complementary advances having also been made from the koala genome sequence and in our understanding of the koala immune system, we are primed to make a significant positive impact on koala health into the future.
Barth Benjamin J., FitzGibbon Sean I., Gillett Amber, Wilson Robbie S., Moffitt Beth, Pye Geoffrey W., Adam Dalene, Preece Harriet, Ellis William A. (2019) Scattered paddock trees and roadside vegetation can provide important habitat for koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in an agricultural landscape. Australian Mammalogy 42, 194-203.
Habitat loss and fragmentation threaten the survival of koalas in Queensland. In rural landscapes, remaining koala habitat is often in the form of scattered paddock trees, patches of vegetation and roadside vegetation. The aims of this study were to (1) quantify the use of these three habitat types; (2) determine whether there is an increased use of scattered trees during the breeding season; and (3) describe the movement characteristics (daily step-length and turning angle) of koalas in different habitat types. To do this, koalas were caught and fitted with global positioning system (GPS) loggers that recorded their daily locations. We found koalas utilised all three habitat types in both breeding and non-breeding seasons, but roadside vegetation and scattered trees were utilised significantly more than expected based on their availability within the landscape. We found no significant difference in step-length or turning angles in scattered trees compared with patches of vegetation. We conclude that scattered trees are a critical element of habitat in this rural landscape. This work provides evidence that retaining or planting scattered trees within the rural landscape would likely complement or possibly enhance the conservation value of rural landscapes for koalas.
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