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

David S. Dique, Harriet J Preece, Jim Thompson and Deidre L. de Villiers

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 64, Bellbowrie, Qld 4070,
Australia.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 155, Brisbane Albert Street,
Qld 4002, Australia.

 

Abstract. Koala surveys were used to determine the distribution and abundance of a threatened regional koala population in south-east Queensland to assist with the development of effective conservation management programs. Daytime systematic searches of strip transects were conducted twice yearly from 1996 to 1999 to determine koala density at a number of sites in urban, remnant bushland and bushland strata. Mean density estimates for 27 survey sites ranged from 0.02 to 1.26 koalas ha. Koala densities were generally higher in large tracts and remnant patches of eucalypt bushland towards the centre of the region with lower but significant densities in urban areas. Two estimates of population size were obtained: 7230 (±1668, 95% confidence limit) and 6246 (±1444, 95% confidence limit). The estimate of 6246 was considered to provide a better indication of actual population size as it reduced the variation within strata and took into account the distribution of koalas across the region. It is likely that determining habitat areas for conservation based on where koalas actually occur rather than identifying distributions of 'preferred' tree species or community reports, as has been promoted in other studies, is a better indicator of the conservation significance of remnant habitat areas. Future koala-management programs should ensure that the significance of eucalypt bushland areas towards the centre of the study area is not compromised by future urban development and associated threats to koalas.