Research, Connect, Protect




Its the blues, Jim, but not as we know it: a response to FitzGibbon et al. (2017)

Stephen Phillips

Biolink Ecological Consultants, PO Box 3196, Uki, NSW 2484, Australia. Email:


A cautious approach to managing the impacts of disturbance on free-ranging koala (Phascolactos cinereus) populations is fundamental to effective management of this iconic species. The critique by FitzGibbon et al. (2017) of a pioneering study by Phillips (2016) on the impacts of noise on koalas argued that a departure from aspects of the methods, a disregard for disease issues, other koala mortality data and an onerous approach to mitigation of potential impact detracted from the merit of the work. In response and while acknowledging some departures in evaluation criteria, the primary outcomes arising from the study remain unchanged, concerns about unreported koala mortalities are premature, while mitigation measures proposed by Phillips (2016) have been misinterpreted. Unravelling the implications of anthropogenic disturbance on terrestrial wildlife communities is a rapidly expandingfield of ecological study. The work in question provides novel descriptions of aversive behaviour by koalas, each of which remains testable in the context of disturbance ecology, thus laying the foundations for further research to be undertaken.

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