Research, Connect, Protect



Surveying techniques

A community-based survey of the koala Phascolarctos cinereus, in the Eden region of south-eastern New South Wales

Lunney, D, Esson, C, Moon, C, Ellis, M & Matthews, A 1997, Wildlife Research, vol. 24, pp. 111-128.

A community-based survey was carried out in cooperation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Forestry Commission between 1991 and 1992 in the Eden region of south-eastern New South Wales (NSW).  The survey revealed that koalas were very rare in the region and had been for at least four decades.  Sighting records indicated that koalas were more commonly found in State Forests (54%) than in private tenures (38%) or National Parks and Nature Reserves (8%).

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Accuracy and efficiency of detection dogs: a powerful new tool for koala conservation and management

Cristescu, RH, Foley, E, Markula, A, Jackson, g, Jones, D & Frere, C 2015, Scientific Reports, vol. 5, no. 8349.

Koala scat detection dogs are a promising alternative to koala scat surveys by humans, as dogs’ strong olfactory abilities allow them to detect scats in circumstances under which a human typically cannot. This experimental study revealed that, due to their high efficiency and accuracy, koala scat detection dogs can reduce both the cost and time required to complete koala scat surveys and provide more accurate distribution and abundance data.

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Can citizen science assist in determining koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) presence in a declining population?

Flower, E, Jones, D & Bernede, L 2016, Animals, vol. 6, no. 42.

A case study of citizen science projects designed to gather information about the national abundance of koalas revealed the valuable role of citizen science in influencing the conservation of the threatened species.  The quantity and quality of data collected by citizen scientists did not only match those of traditional scientific research models, but also covered a much greater spatial scale. 

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Detecting population declines over large areas with presence-absence, time-to-encounter, and count survey methods

Pollock, JF 2006, Conservation Biology, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 882-892.

This study compared three types of fauna surveying methods; presence-absence, count, and time-to-encounter, to determine which would be most cost-effective for monitoring regional population declines. The results found that presence-absence surveys were often more powerful than count data surveys. Presence-absence surveys worked better than count surveys when; animal abundance did not vary hugely between sites, the organism was rare, and/or the species was difficult to detect so that the time spent at the site was greater than the time taken to travel there. Count surveys worked best in all other scenarios.

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DNA fingerprint analysis of a free-range koala population

Timms, P, Kato, J, Maugeri, M & White, N 1993, Biochemical Genetics, vol. 31, no. 9/10, pp. 363-374.

This paper presents the first detailed genetic study of a large group of wild koalas in Queensland using the DNA fingerprinting technique.

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DNA profiling of Queensland koalas reveals sufficient variability for individual identification and parentage determination

Cocciolone, RA & Timms, P 1992, Wildlife Research, vol. 19, pp. 279-287.

DNA profiling of captive and free-range groups of koalas in Queensland detected genetic variation and differentiated between individuals using restriction enzymes (Msp I and Bam HI) and M13 probe.  Specific DNA profiles were produced to identify individuals with an average genetic variation of 17%.  These DNA profiles can be used for exploring genetic relatedness and social structure in both captive and wild populations of koalas.

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Evaluation of line-transect sampling for estimating koala abundance in the Pine Rivers Shire, south-east Queensland

Dique, DS, de Villiers, DL & Preece, HJ 2003, Wildlife Research, vol. 30, pp. 127-133.

Using line-transect sampling to estimate koala density, this study quantifies the abundance of koalas in Pine Rivers Shire, Queensland. Initially, line- and strip-transect sampling were compared in a pilot survey, with both methods providing similar density estimates. Following this result, line transects were established in bushland sites throughout the Shire and 82 koalas were identified. After integrating total count data from urban areas, koala abundance was estimated at 4584.

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First catch your koala! Use of a trap to capture koalas Phascolarctos cinereus for ecological studies

Hasegawa, M & Carrick, FN 1995, Australian Zoologist, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 68-70.

The trial of a new design of trap to capture koalas was detailed in this article. The trap stops a koala that has descended a tree from re-climbing the tree and keeps the animal in an enclosure until a field worker can recover it. The experiment serves as a proof of concept and efficacy, capturing nine koalas with a mean capture length of 1.9 days.

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Integrating research using animal-borne telemetry with the needs of conservation management

McGowan, J, Beger, M, Lewison, RL, Harcourt, R, Campbell, H, Priest, M, Dwyer, RG, Lin, H, Lentini, P, Dudgeon, C, McMahon, C, Watts, M & Possingham, HP 2017, Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 54, pp. 423-429.

Animal-borne telemetry, the tracking and recording of wildlife using radio or similar devices, has contributed extensively to studies of animal movement, demography and social structures. Although useful for collecting basic ecological data, the realities of the current conservation crisis mean that extensive telemetry studies are not always the most pragmatic, effective or viable use of time and resources. A framework is described here that allows researchers to determine whether and how animal-borne telemetry research can be applied for conservation purposes. The authors recommend that a value-of-information analysis be applied to assess whether or not animal telemetry studies are cost-efficient for informing conservation decision-making.

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Koalas on Kangaroo Island: from introduction to pest status in less than a century

Masters, P, Duka, T, Berris, S & Moss, G 2004, Wildlife Research, vol. 31, pp. 267-272.

The rapid increase in koala numbers after 18 individuals were introduced to Kangaroo Island, South Australia in the 1920s necessitated the development of a management plan to control the expanding population. Estimates of population size based on surveys carried out in 1994 placed the population at around 5000 individuals. At the time of implementation of a sterilisation and relocation program in 1997, however, it became apparent that initial surveys had greatly underestimated population size and an accurate measurement of the current population was needed.   

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Relationships between morphometric variables and age for captive individuals may not accurately estimate the age of free-ranging juvenile koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Tucker, GM, Clifton, ID & McKillup, SC 2012, Australian Journal of Zoology, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 173-179.

The development and application of a model for determining the ages of free-ranging juvenile Queensland koalas based on morphometric variables suggests that similar models based on data obtained from captive animals may not be suitable for estimations of age of wild koalas.

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The spatial and temporal distribution of koala faecal pellets

Ellis, WAH, Sullivan, BJ, Lisle, A & Carrick, FN 1998, Wildlife Research, vol. 25, pp. 663-668.

Faecal pellet counting is a convenient tool to determine the habitat use of vertebrate species, and particularly how individual koalas utilise trees. This study investigates the relationship between koala activity and the temporal and spatial patterns of pellet production by koalas. The authors reported that koala pellet production was at its peak between 6pm and midnight, and that there was a significant relationship between the average length of time spent in a tree by a koala and the time of day at which the koala arrived in the tree.

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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and artificial intelligence revolutionising wildlife monitoring and conservation

Gonzalez, LF, Montes, GA, Puig, E, Johnson, S, Mengersen, K & Gaston, KJ 2016, Sensors, vol. 16, no. 97, s16010097.

This report describes a technique for automated wildlife detection using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery that overcomes many of the challenges associated with ground-based monitoring techniques. In a trial of the technique, a system comprising an UAV equipped with thermal imagery sensors and video processing capabilities detected the presence and locations of koalas in a natural environment with remarkable accuracy to generate a reliable population estimate of the surveyed area.

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Use of expert knowledge to elicit population trends for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Adams-Hosking, C, McBride, MF, Baxter, G, Burgman, M, de Villiers, D, Kavanagh, R, Lawler, I, Lunney, D, Melzer, A, Menkhorst, P, Molsher, R, Moore, BD, Phalen, D, Rhodes, JR, Todd, C, Whisson, D & McAlpine, CA 2016, Diversity and Distributions, pp. 1-14.

Regional populations of koalas are continuing to change across Australia with evidence showing rapid declines, stable and growing populations. Despite the importance of understanding population trends for this threatened species, there are diverse opinions held by experts regarding koala abundance and, hence, the status of koala populations. Expert elicitation was used here as a method to derive estimates of koala populations and trends from a number of koala experts.  

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Using complementary remote detection methods for retrofitted eco-passages: a case study for monitoring individual koalas in south-east Queensland

Dexter, CE, Appleby, RG, Edgar, JP, Scott, J & Jones, DN 2016, Wildlife Research, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 369-379.

This study employed a variety of techniques to monitor the use of infrastructure retrofitted to provide safe passage under or over roads by individual koalas. By doing so, researchers were able to better understand the roles that wildlife crossing structures might play in preventing wildlife-vehicle collisions and enhancing koala habitat and population connectivity.

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