The Spot Assessment Technique: a tool for determining localised levels of habitat use by Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus
Stephen Phillips1 and John Callaghan2
1Current Address: Biolink Ecological Consultants PO Box 3196 Uki NSW 2484 Australia.
2Current Address: Gold Coast City Council PO Box 5042 Gold Coast MC 9729 Australia.
In order to more effectively conserve Koalas, the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy 2009 – 2014 promotes the need for reliable approaches to the assessment of Koala habitat. This work describes a point-based, tree sampling methodology that utilises the presence/absence of Koala faecal pellets within a prescribed search area around the base of trees to derive a measure of Koala activity. Confidence intervals associated with Koala activity data from 405 randomly selected field plots within which faecal pellets were recorded have been utilised to assign threshold values for three population density/habitat biomes in eastern Australia. Subject to the need for a precautionary approach to data interpretation in areas that support naturally occurring, low-density Koala populations, the approach is expected to assist field-based assessments by researchers, land managers and others interested in clarifying aspects of habitat utilisation by free-ranging Koalas, especially where identification of important areas for protection and management is required.