An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.
May 2024
Subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/808fc4af1ee0/koala-news-science

Wild Koala Day: 24 events and lots of media!

And global calendars & Wikipedia are already advertising Wild Koala Day 3 May, 2025.

Planet Health Check: https://planethealthcheck.com/events/international-wild-koala-day/

Australian Academy of Science: https://fb.watch/swLlwJZHZX/

India Today: https://www.indiatoday.in/information/story/international-wild-koala-day-2024-all-you-need-to-know-2534778-2024-05-03

Natural Habitat Adventures USA https://www.nathab.com/blog/celebrate-and-save-wild-koalas/

News Nine India: https://www.news9live.com/knowledge/koala-9-facts-about-the-only-living-species-of-its-family-2521893

Take Action for Wildlife UK: https://www.takeactionforwildlifeconservation.com/blog/wild-koala-day#google_vignette

Ministry of Wildlife & Forest Resources Sri Lanka: https://www.mwfc.gov.lk/events/international-leopard-day-03rd-may/

Australian Wildlife Journeys: https://australianwildlifejourneys.com/blog/2024/05/01/24/may-3-is-wild-koala-day-5-reasons-we-love-seeing-koalas-in-the-wild

Koala Hospital Alliance: https://www.portnews.com.au/story/8615369/koala-hospitals-alliance-in-nsw-unites-for-conservation/

Queensland Koala Crusaders: https://www.koalacrusaders.org.au/wild_koala_day_2024

Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation VIC: https://www.mpnews.com.au/2024/05/07/digging-in-for-koalas/

Eurobodalla Koala Project NSW: https://aboutregional.com.au/drones-find-koalas-in-natural-eurobodalla-habitat-after-three-year-absence/450211/

Magnetic Island Koala Hospital QLD: https://shorturl.at/ZpH3e and https://www.facebook.com/share/v/AfvfiRciXpAbU4eT/

MidCoast Council NSW: https://www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/Our-news/News-releases/Tree-give-away-for-Wild-Koala-Day

Campbelltown Council NSW: https://www.miragenews.com/plant-tree-for-our-furry-friends-on-wild-koala-1220344/#google_vignette

Friends of Kirrawak NSW: https://www.miragenews.com/kiwarrak-koala-habitat-logging-starts-on-wild-1227490/


Alliance of NSW koala hospitals launches 3 May
Koala Conservation Australia Port Macquarie, Friends of the Koala Lismore and Port Stephens Koala Hospital have joined forces to launch NSW Koala Hospital Alliance. The Alliance aims to achieve better outcomes in koala conservation by working together, sharing information and resources, and strengthening our organisations, already leaders in koala care, through collaboration in koala care, science, education, and research.


Koalas can predict hot days & adjust body temperature 29 May
University of Sydney’s Dr Val Mella has released a new study showing that koalas prepare for hot days by adjusting their body temperature. The study also discovered the highest and lowest body temperatures known for koalas.

Insights on koala conservation on farming land QLD 16 May
University of Queensland’s Dr Bill Ellis addressed a beef cattle forum about koala conservation on cattle farms. Some interesting ideas here.

Mt Coot-tha lighting proposal may be abandoned QLD
Jill Richardson spoke to Michael Berkman, state Greens MP for Ryan, who stated that the proposed night illumination project in Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens appears to have been abandoned.
Mt Coot-tha Protection Alliance has more information here:

Toondah Harbour development proposal rejected 18 April
Rejected by the federal environment minister on the basis of the destruction to RAMSAR-listed wetlands. Walker Corporation has withdrawn its application, which means the koala forest is also safe for now.

Submissions to NSW Koala Strategy Review:

The Australia Institute: Gottschalk, A., 2024. No delay, no excuses, no carbon offsets-Submission to the NSW Koala Strategy. https://policycommons.net/artifacts/12367701/no-delay-no-excuses-no-carbon-offsets/13264164/

Environment Defenders Office: Walmsley, R., 2024. Submission on the NSW Koala Strategy Review. https://policycommons.net/artifacts/12289200/submission-on-the-nsw-koala-strategy-review/13183240/


Latest Koala Science


Mella, V.S., Cooper, C.E., Karr, M., Krockenberger, A., Madani, G., Webb, E.B. and Krockenberger, M.B., 2024. Hot climate, hot koalas: the role of weather, behaviour and disease on thermoregulation. Conservation Physiology, 12(1), p.coae032. https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/coae032

Thermoregulation is critical for endotherms living in hot, dry conditions, and maintaining optimal core body temperature (Tb) in a changing climate is an increasingly challenging task for mammals. Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) have evolved physiological and behavioural strategies to maintain homeostasis and regulate their Tb but are thought to be vulnerable to prolonged heat. We investigated how weather, behaviour and disease influence Tb for wild, free-living koalas during summer in north-west New South Wales. We matched Tb with daily behavioural observations in an ageing population where chlamydial disease is prevalent. Each individual koala had similar Tb rhythms (average Tb = 36.4 ± 0.05°C), but male koalas had higher Tb amplitude and more pronounced daily rhythm than females. Disease disrupted the 24-hr circadian pattern of Tb. Koala Tb increased with ambient temperature (Ta). On the hottest day of the study (maximum Ta = 40.8°C), we recorded the highest (Tb = 40.8°C) but also the lowest (Tb = 32.4°C) Tb ever documented for wild koalas, suggesting that they are more heterothermic than previously recognized. This requires individuals to predict days of extreme Ta from overnight and early morning conditions, adjusting Tb regulation accordingly, and it has never been reported before for koalas. The large diel amplitude and low minimum Tb observed suggest that koalas at our study site are energetically and nutritionally compromised, likely due to their age. Behaviour (i.e. tree hugging and drinking water) was not effective in moderating Tb. These results indicate that Ta and koala Tb are strongly interconnected and reinforce the importance of climate projections for predicting the future persistence of koalas throughout their current distribution. Global climate models forecast that dry, hot weather will continue to escalate and drought events will increase in frequency, duration and severity. This is likely to push koalas and other arboreal folivores towards their thermal limit.


Law, B., Gonsalves, L., Brassil, T. and Kerr, I., 2024. Broad‐scale acoustic monitoring of koala populations suggests metapopulation stability, but varying bellow rate, in the face of major disturbances and climate extremes. Ecology and Evolution, 14(5), p.e11351. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.11351

Population trends are lacking for most threatened species, especially those that are cryptic and difficult to survey. Recent developments in passive acoustics and semi-automated call recognition provide a cost-effective option to systematically monitor populations of vocal species. We assessed recent trends for the koala Phascolarctos cinereus, an iconic marsupial, based on 7 years of acoustic monitoring across 224 forested sites. The study period overlapped with a severe drought and extensive megafires in 2019 followed by 2 years of extremely high rainfall. Dynamic occupancy modelling with a range of covariates at multiple landscape scales found that initial occupancy was related to elevation (−ve), NDVI (+ve) and previous selective harvesting (16–30-year age class; weakly +ve). Extinction probability increased with the extent of high-severity fire. Colonisation probability was related to a range of factors, with the top model showing a decrease with increasing lagged annual rainfall. However, the null model was also supported, suggesting weak associations for colonisation. Using these relationships, koala occupancy was found to be high and stable over the study period. Fire did not influence regional trends because koalas often persisted with low- to moderate-severity fire and because high-severity fire was limited to 11% of their habitat. In contrast, bellow rate varied across years, being initially low and declining immediately after the 2019 fires, with the driver of these changes unclear. Neither timber harvesting nor low-severity fire influenced koala occupancy or bellow rate. Given the extensive area of koala habitat in the region, our results point to the presence of a large population in these public forests, and in recent years, stable occupancy (albeit with site-scale reductions in density with high-severity fire). Ongoing monitoring is crucial for tracking future changes, especially with predictions of more frequent, severe forest fires due to climate change.


Chen, C.J., 2024. Investigation into the Detection and Antibiotic Treatments for Chlamydiosis in Koalas (Doctoral dissertation). https://hdl.handle.net/2123/32499

The koala was listed as an endangered species due to a profound reduction of koalas in QLD and NSW, with chlamydial infections as the most observed bacterial disease across Australia. Clinical signs include conjunctivitis, urogenital/urinary tract inflammation causing infertility, and progresses to death if untreated. The thesis aimed to address the existing knowledge gaps and suggested future directions for managing chlamydial infections in this endangered marsupial. The doxycycline dosage administered to diseased koalas at 5 mg/kg was evaluated with the PK/PD study using a two-compartmental analysis. PTA modelling and the AUC/MIC target of ≥24 were also investigated. The retrospective study evaluated the treatment efficacy of antibiotics and the clinical outcome of hospitalised koalas. Female koalas exhibited lower odds of survival in comparison to males. Koalas given chloramphenicol treatment for ≥28d had increased odds of survival compared to those treated for <28d. Koalas administered doxycycline had higher odds of testing PCR negative compared to those treated with chloramphenicol. Female koalas had elevated odds of manifesting UGT signs and also increased odds of presenting both ocular and UGT signs compared to males. Notably, 28.5% of the koalas displayed no clinical signs but tested PCR positive. The suitability of TRP, KYN, and KYN:TRP as potential biomarkers for chlamydial infections in the koala was studied. Plasma concentrations of TRP, KYN, and KYN:TRP were quantified in 35 clinically normal koalas, 35 with chlamydial infection and 10 with co-morbidities other than chlamydiosis. Reference ranges and optimal cut-off points were also proposed. Potential biomarkers, especially TRP, may not be specific for detecting C. pecorum, but KYN and KYN:TRP may have a role in identifying unhealthy koalas, irrespective of the underlying cause. This opened future research direction into the potential prognostic markers of detecting C. pecorum in the koala.


Koala Science In Brief


Miklik, D., Slavkova, M., Kučerová, D., Mekadim, C., Mrazek, J. and Hejnar, J., 2024. Long Terminal Repeats of Gammaretroviruses Retain Stable Expression After Integration Retargeting or Knock-In into the Restrictive Chromatin of Lamina-Associated Domains. bioRxiv, pp.2024-05. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2024.05.30.596639v1.abstract


Kondo, K., Suzuki, M., Amadaira, M., Araki, C., Watanabe, R., Murakami, K., Ochiai, S., Ogura, T. and Hayakawa, T., 2024. Association of maternal genetics with the gut microbiome and eucalypt diet selection in captive koalas. PeerJ, 12, p.e17385. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.17385


Pan, A., Pahuja, H., Portas, T. and Narayan, E., 2024. Testing the application of plasma glucocorticoids and their ratios as biomarkers of acute and chronic stress in rescued wild koala patients: a pilot study. bioRxiv, pp.2024-05. https://doi.org/10.1101/2024.05.24.595853


Previous Koala News & Science here: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/koala-news-science/april-2024/
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 president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au before 29th of each month for possible inclusion.