A review of feeding and diet selection in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Benjamin D. Moore and William J. Foley
Division of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
Food quality and availability are believed to be primary determinants of habitat quality for koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), so we need to know ‘what makes good food for koalas?’ An answer to this question must define the dietary niche of koalas, describe how much koalas eat and also consider variation in food choice by koalas at several scales. Ultimately, all these issues must be related to variation in foliar chemistry. Recent studies have shown that there is a closer relationship between leaf composition and the food preferences of koalas than had previously been appreciated but we emphasise the importance of evaluating diet selection within a theoretical framework and at appropriate temporal and spatial scales. Finally, we discuss the steps needed to incorporate an understanding of the nutritional challenges faced by koalas into a broader understanding of the species’ ecology to assist in its conservation.