Unusual patterns of tooth wear among koalas Phascolarctos cinereus from St Bees Island, Queensland, require re-evaluation of criteria for aging koalas by tooth-wear class

Alistair Melzer1#, William Ellis1,2, Greg Gordon4, Gail Tucker1, Robyn Kindness1 and Frank Carrick3

1Koala Research Centre of Central Queensland, CQ University, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, Qld 4702
2San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, Zoological Society of San Diego, Escondido, CA, USA.
3Koala Study Program, Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, The University of Queensland, Qld 4072
4Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane, Qld 4001
#To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Tooth wear patterns among P. cinereus on St Bees Island in the humid Central Queensland Coast bio geographic region differ significantly from those observed in the sub-humid Brigalow Belt
bio geographic region. Within the Brigalow Belt region, tooth-wear patterns among P. cinereus at Biloela, Springsure and Oakey are similar. The published method for the estimation of age based on tooth-wear from P. cinereus populations at Springsure and Oakey is applicable to the Biloela population but is not applicable to the St Bees Island population. It is concluded that, in Queensland at least, the tooth wear – age class classification should be verified with local data when applied in environments different from those of the Brigalow Belt. Further, the appropriateness of using a single tooth-wear classificatory scheme to establish the age of P. cinereus for transfer overseas is questioned.