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Biogeography

A preliminary investigation of the distribution of koalas and their potential habitat in the Tweed Shire, and implications for management

Faulks, J 1991, Australian Zoologist, vol. 27, no. 1 & 2, pp. 1-13.

The author of this review used historical information, past surveys, personal interviews and relevant literature to determine the distribution of koalas in the Tweed Shire Council region, an area dominated by natural habitat with prime agricultural land throughout, and consequently make recommendations about habitat management in the region.

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Changes in the distribution of reports of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) after 16 years of local conservation initiatives at Gunnedah, north-west New South Wales, Australia

Ellis, MV, Rhind, SG, Smith, M & Lunney, D 2017, Pacific Conservation Biology, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 63-70.

The results of two community surveys of the koala population in the Gunnedah region in New South Wales taken in 1990 and 2006 were compared. The survey of 1990 was initiated after the charismatic marsupial became a mascot for a tree planting program to address the problem of salinity on agricultural land in the area. As koalas were later reported to be using these planted trees, another survey was conducted in 2006 at a broader geographical scale. Although the surveys employed different methodologies, these two datasets allowed some broad conclusions to be made about changes in the region’s koala population over time.

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Characteristics of arboreal marsupial habitat in the semi-arid woodlands of northern Queensland

Munks, SA, Corkrey, R, & Foley, WJ 1996, Wildlife Research, vol. 23, pp. 185-195.

Koalas and common brushtail possums utilise a range of different land types in the semi-arid woodlands of northern Queensland but exhibit higher preferences for habitats characterised by high tree basal area and nearness to creek-lines. It appears, therefore, that foliar moisture rather than foliar nutrients has a high influence on arboreal marsupials’ habitat preferences in semi-arid woodlands.

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Chemosensory discrimination of identity and familiarity in koalas

Charlton, BD 2015, Behavioural Processes, vol. 119, no. 1, pp. 38-43.

  Male koalas can differentiate between the scent gland secretions of familiar and unfamiliar individuals. The koalas spent more time sniffing scents from unknown males than familiar males, demonstrating that they can discriminate between members of their species with regards to their familiarity. These results suggest koalas use chemical cues to figure out the identity and familiarity of other koalas.  

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Determining the distribution and abundance of a regional koala population in south-east Queensland for conservation management

Dique, DS, Preece, HJ, Thompson, J & de Villiers, DL 2004, Wildlife Research, vol. 31, pp. 109-117.

Integrating strip-transect surveys and landcover classification, this study identifies the distribution and abundance of a regionally threatened koala population in the Koala Coast, south-east Queensland. Koala densities were found to be greatest in remnant patches and large areas of eucalypt bushland, especially towards the region’s centre. Urban areas possessed lower, but significant densities.

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Dispersal patterns in a regional koala population in south-east Queensland

Dique, DS, Thompson, J, Preece, HJ, de Villiers, DL & Carrick, FN 2003, Wildlife Research, vol. 30, pp. 281-290.

Between 1996 and 2000, koala dispersal was monitored in a population within the Koala Coast. A total of 195 koalas were radio-tracked, of which 40 dispersed, five made exploratory movements and 150 remained within the same natal home range. Significantly more males than females dispersed from their natal range.

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Far Western New South Wales occurrence of a koala Phascolarctos cinereus

Ellis, M, Sheppard, N & Gall, K 1997, Australian Zoologist, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 327-328.

In July of 1994, a grazier 30 kilometres north of Wilcannia reported sighting a male koala. Prior to this there had only been occasional sightings of koalas in the western plains of New South Wales, mainly concentrated around Ivanhoe and the along the Darling River. This new observation suggests that koala dispersal or colonisation may be promoted by their use of the Darling River corridor.

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Modeling Species’ Distributions to Improve Conservation in Semiurban Landscapes: Koala Case Study

Rhodes, JR, Wiegand, T, McAlpine, CA, Callaghan, J, Lunney, D, Bowen, M & Possingham, HP 2006, Conservation Biology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 449-459.

Logistic regression models can be used to show the distribution of koalas in response to the quality of natural habitat and anthropogenic impacts, and consequently to predict changes in populations in response to these variables over time. Here, this modelling approach in combination with distribution mapping techniques showed that natural habitat availability was the most important factor determining koala presence; however, anthropogenic impacts are an increasing threat to the existence of koalas in some areas, particularly at a local scale. 

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Modelling climate-change-induced shifts in the distribution of the koala

Adams-Hosking, C, Grantham, HS, Rhodes, JR, McAlpine, C & Moss, PT 2011, Wildlife Research, vol. 38, pp. 122-130.

Climate change is resulting in shifting distributions of koala populations throughout Australia as a direct result of increased temperatures and decreased rainfall. Bioclimatic models based on current koala localities and several climate change scenarios were used in this study to predict future climatic envelopes of koala populations. Results showed a likely progressive movement eastwards and southwards in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

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Modelling distributions of arboreal and ground-dwelling mammals in relation to climate, nutrients, plant chemical defences and vegetation structure in the eucalypt forests of southeastern Australia

Cork, SJ & Catling, PC 1996, Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 85, pp. 163-175.

This paper reviews numerous studies investigating how both arboreal and ground-dwelling mammal distributions respond to changes in climate, leaf nutrients, plant chemical defences and vegetation structure, using the temperate Eucalyptus forests of southeastern and northeastern New South Wales as case studies.

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Movement patterns of koalas in remnant forest after fire

Matthews, A, Lunney, A, Gresser, S & Maitz, W 2016, Australian Mammalogy, vol. 38, pp. 91-104.

With greater fragmentation of remnant, fire-prone forest across eastern Australia, prevailing koala populations are becoming increasingly susceptible to disturbance events. This study investigated the dispersal of koalas after a large wildfire on the central coast of New South Wales. Radio-tracking over three years revealed a wide variety of patterns, with rehabilitated and unburnt koalas demonstrating both localised and long-range movement exceeding 20km.

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The spatial and temporal distribution of koala faecal pellets

Ellis, WAH, Sullivan, BJ, Lisle, A & Carrick, FN 1998, Wildlife Research, vol. 25, pp. 663-668.

Faecal pellet counting is a convenient tool to determine the habitat use of vertebrate species, and particularly how individual koalas utilise trees. This study investigates the relationship between koala activity and the temporal and spatial patterns of pellet production by koalas. The authors reported that koala pellet production was at its peak between 6pm and midnight, and that there was a significant relationship between the average length of time spent in a tree by a koala and the time of day at which the koala arrived in the tree.

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The use of corridors by mammals in fragmented Australian eucalypt forests

Downes, SJ, Handasyde, KA & Elgar, MA 1997, Conservation Biology, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 718-726.

The composition and density of mammalian assemblages utilising forest patches, corridors and pasture in fragmented forest landscapes vary between species, generally depending on individual species characteristics. This study highlights the importance of corridors, particularly for arboreal mammal species such as the koala, as they provide resident habitat and functional pathways in a fragmented forest system.

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