A Survey of Pesticide Accumulation in a Specialist Feeder, the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Caroline Marschner1 · Damien P. Higgins1 · Mark B. Krockenberger1
1 Faculty of Veterinary Science, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, NSW, Australia
To maintain profitability in Australia’s agricultural and urban landscapes pesticides are used throughout the range of koala habitats. The koala is a specialist feeder, reliant on metabolic enzyme capacities to utilise a toxic diet of eucalypt leaves and is potentially prone to adverse effects when xenobiotic interactions between dietary and anthropogenic xenobiotics occur. The aim of this study was to investigate accumulation of frequently used pesticides in wild koalas in 4 areas of New South Wales and Queensland. Liver samples of 57 deceased koalas were collected from care facilities and analysed using a modified QuEChERS extraction method followed by GCMSMS, HRLCMS and LCMSMS. No accumulation of any of the 166 investigated pesticides was found. Data indicate hepatic accumulation of pesticides in this species is uncommon even with close interactions with intensive land use. Despite the lack of hepatic bioaccumulation, this study cannot exclude a direct effect on hepatocellular metabolic pathways.