A survey of a low-density koala population in a major reserve system, near Sydney, New South Wales
ALISON CURTIN, DANIEL LUNNEY AND ALISON MATTHEWS
New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 1967, Hurstville NSW 2220, Australia.
Two methods were used to determine the distribution in 1995 of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in Yengo National Park and Parr State Recreation Area, which together form a major reserve system where P. cinereus were known to be scarce. The first, a community survey which was distributed to 823 residences adjoining the reserves, yielded 139 responses. Of these, 31 responses provided information that allowed 26 P. cinereus locality records to be verified. A further eight P. cinereus locality records were obtained from interviews with neighbours. Most records were road-based. The second, a field survey based on scat searches, produced an additional 13 P. cinereus localities. P. cinereus scats were found under 11 tree species. Eucalyptus punctata was most frequently recorded with scats of those that were adequately sampled. A range of vegetation types and both ridges and gullies were used by P. cinereus. During field surveys, P. cinereus was found to be sparse and occurring throughout much of the survey area, concentrated in the eastern, southern and central parts of the reserve system. Both methods identified P. cinereus to be present before and after the extensive fires of January 1994, which burnt 60 % of the area. An appraisal of the methods revealed that they are complementary. The survey of residents provided recent and historical information and an indication of initial search areas for P. cinereus. The field survey yielded specific information about local P. cinereus habitat. The combination increased the number of P. cinereus records for the area more than four-fold. This study has provided the reserve managers with a clearer picture of the location of the local P. cinereus population.