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Low-density koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations in the
mulgalands of south-west Queensland. II. Distribution and diet

B.J. Sullivan, W M. Norris and G. S. Baxter

School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland, Gatton,
Qld 4345, Australia.
Present address: Seabirds at Sea Team, Falklands Conservation, Jetty Centre, Stanley, Falkland Islands.
 Present address: Fisheries Resource Management, Queensland Fisheries Service,
GPO Box 406, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

 

Abstract. This study used faecal pellets to investigate the broadscale distribution and diet of koalas in the mulgalands biogeographic region of south-west Queensland. Koala distribution was determined by conducting faecal pellet searches within a 30-cm radius of the base of eucalypts on 149 belt transects, located using a multi-scaled stratified sampling design. Cuticular analysis of pellets collected from 22 of these sites was conducted to identify the dietary composition of koalas within the region. Our data suggest that koala distribution is concentrated in the northern and more easterly regions of the study area, and appears to be strongly linked with annual rainfall. Over 50% of our koala records were obtained from non-riverine communities, indicating that koalas in the study area are not primarily restricted to riverine communities, as has frequently been suggested. Cuticular analysis indicates that more than 90% of koala diet within the region consists of five eucalypt species. Our data highlights the importance of residual Tertiary landforms to koala conservation in the region.