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Tree use, diet and home range of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
at Blair Athol, central Queensland

W. A. H. Ellis, A. Melzer, F. N. Carrick and M. Hasegawa

Koala Study Program, Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland,
Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.
Koala Research Centre of Central Queensland, Central Queensland University,
North Rockhampton, Qld 4702, Australia.

 

Abstract. Free-ranging koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) were monitored by means of radio-relocation in the area of Blair Athol Coal Mine and surrounding properties. Daytime tree use, home range and diet of these koalas was determined in spring and autumn, as was the leaf moisture composition of potential fodder species. Koalas used on average 93 (male koalas) and 56 (female koalas) trees during the period of observation, occupying home ranges of 135 and 101 ha respectively. Mean sightings per tree were 1.19 for both males and females and home-range sizes were not significantly different between sexes or seasons. Koalas were observed returning to previously used daytime roosting trees infrequently (<12%). Although koalas were observed roosting in trees of the species that they ate, proportional species representation in the diet of these koalas during spring and autumn did not accurately reflect concurrent observations of their daytime tree-roosting behaviour. Koalas were observed to utilise non-fodder species for daytime roosting, and patterns of daytime tree use and diet selection varied between individuals inhabiting adjacent communities within the site. Leaf moisture of tree species represented in koala diets was greater in autumn than spring.