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Evaluation of line-transect sampling for estimating koala abundance
in the Pine Rivers Shire, south-east Queensland

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

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 64, Bellbowrie, Qld 4070, Australia.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 5116, Daisy Hill, Qld 4127, Australia.

 

Abstract. Distance sampling using line transects has not been previously used or tested for estimating koala abundance. In July 2001, a pilot survey was conducted to compare the use of line transects with strip transects for estimating koala abundance. Both methods provided a similar estimate of density. On the basis of the results of the pilot survey, the distribution and abundance of koalas in the Pine Rivers Shire, south-east Queensland, was determined using line-transect sampling. In total, 134 lines (length 64 km) were used to sample bushland areas. Eighty-two independent koalas were sighted. Analysis of the frequency distribution of sighting distances using the software program DISTANCE enabled a global detection function to be estimated for survey sites in bushland areas across the Shire. Abundance in urban parts of the Shire was estimated from densities obtained from total counts at eight urban sites that ranged from 26 to 51 ha in size. Koala abundance in the Pine Rivers Shire was estimated at 4584 (95% confidence interval, 4040-5247). Line-transect sampling is a useful method for estimating koala abundance provided experienced koala observers are used when conducting surveys.