Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Individuals matter: predicting koala road crossing behaviour in south-east Queensland

C. E. Dexter A C , R. G. Appleby A B , J. Scott A , J. P. Edgar B and D. N. Jones A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Environmental Futures Research Institute, Sir Samuel Griffith Centre (N78), Griffith University, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

B Wild Spy Pty Ltd, 11/25 Depot Street, Banyo, Qld 4014, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: c.dexter@griffith.edu.au

Australian Mammalogy - https://doi.org/10.1071/AM16043
Submitted: 26 August 2016  Accepted: 30 March 2017   Published online: 7 July 2017

Abstract

The ability to predict the frequency with which koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) cross roads is an important step in developing mitigation strategies aimed at maintaining metapopulation viability for this species. In south-east Queensland, Australia, rapid urban development, including fragmentation and vehicle-related mortality, has contributed to a dramatic decline in local koala populations. Assessment of wildlife crossing structures that mitigates the impact of roads demonstrates these to be beneficial for many species. However, building enough structures to enable animals to move freely across impacted landscapes may be prohibitive in complex urban landscapes. The focus for this study was to consider the role of differing characteristics for species at risk. We examined the frequency of road crossings by individual koalas among six subpopulations in south-east Queensland. We explored the influence of potential predictor variables including: age, sex, and distance from roads. We established that road crossings were limited to a subset of individuals, with only 18 of 51 (~35%) koalas studied ever crossing a road. We found that koalas were disproportionately more likely to cross a road if they had initially been found within a distance of 100 m of that road. Males were more likely to cross roads than females, as were koalas aged less than five years. We suggest that successful wildlife road mitigation can be improved by better understanding the road-crossing behaviour of species such as the koala.

Additional keywords: conservation, research gaps, road crossing risk, road ecology.


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