Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Koalas continue to occupy their previous home-ranges after selective logging in Callitris–Eucalyptus forest

Rodney P. Kavanagh A B , Matthew A. Stanton A and Traecey E. Brassil A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Science and Research Division, Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 100, Beecroft, NSW 2119, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: rodk@sf.nsw.gov.au

Wildlife Research 34(2) 94-107 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR06126
Submitted: 26 September 2006  Accepted: 22 February 2007   Published: 24 April 2007


The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is a charismatic, high-profile species whose conservation needs are commonly perceived to be incompatible with logging. However, koala biology and the results of chronosequence studies elsewhere suggest that this species may tolerate a degree of habitat alteration caused by logging. In this study, 30 koalas, five in each of six areas available for logging within a mixed white cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla)–Eucalyptus forest in north-western New South Wales, were radio-tracked for one year during 1997–1998 to determine their movements, home-range sizes and tree preferences. Five months after the study began, three of these areas were logged selectively for sawlogs and thinnings of the white cypress pine, a tree that is important to koalas for daytime shelter. This removed about one-quarter of the stand basal area, but the eucalypt component was unaffected. The remaining three areas were left undisturbed as controls. Radio-tracking continued in all six areas for another seven months. Koalas continued to occupy all or part of their previous home-ranges after selective logging, and home-range sizes remained similar between logged and unlogged areas. Home-ranges for both sexes overlapped and were ~12 ha for males and 9 ha for females. Koala survival and the proportions of breeding females were similar in logged and unlogged areas. The principal food trees of the koala were red gums, mainly Eucalyptus blakelyi and E. chloroclada, and the pilliga box (E. pilligaensis), none of which were logged in this study. These results suggest that selective logging for white cypress pine does not appear to adversely affect koala populations and that koalas may not be as sensitive to logging as previously thought. Further work is required to determine thresholds in the level of retention of koala food trees in logging operations.


Special thanks go to J. Callaghan and S. Phillips (Australian Koala Foundation) and to J. McKee (University of Queensland), research collaborators in this and related aspects of the larger ‘Pilliga Koala Research Project’, for their enthusiasm and unstinting support. Their assistance, along with that of G. Lloyd, B. Fritz, T. Curran, R. Booth and many other volunteers, was essential for the location, capture, recapture and smooth processing of so many animals. The continuing interest, field assistance and logistic support by local and regional staff of State Forests of NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service was vital for the success of this project. In particular, we thank W. Bratby, S. Cottier, L. Carey, M. Linehan, P. Crichton, A. Williams, G. Daniels, P. Haywood, R. Madden, R. Skinner, D. Frater, and all the rest of the Forestry staff at Baradine. B. Law is thanked for his comments on the manuscript.


Anon.  (1986). Management Plan for Pilliga Management Area. Forestry Commission of New South Wales, Sydney.

ANZECC (1998). National koala conservation strategy. Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Benson, J. S. , and Redpath, P. A. (1997). The nature of pre-European native vegetation in south-eastern Australia: a critique of Ryan, D. G., Ryan, J. R. and Starr, B. J. (1995). The Australian landscape – observations of explorers and early settlers. Cunninghamia 5, 285–328.

Dique, D. S. , Thompson, J. , Preece, H. J. , de Villiers, D. L. , and Carrick, F. N. (2003). Dispersal patterns in a regional koala population in south-east Queensland. Wildlife Research 30, 281–290.
CrossRef |

Ellis, W. A. H. , Melzer, A. , Carrick, F. N. , and Hasegawa, M. (2002). Tree use, diet and home range of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) at Blair Athol, central Queensland. Wildlife Research 29, 303–311.
CrossRef |

Gall, B. , and Rohan-Jones, W. (1978). Koala survey. Parks and Wildlife 2(2), 64–67.

Gibbons P., and Lindenmayer D. (2002). ‘Tree Hollows and Wildlife Conservation in Australia.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Gordon, G. (1991). Estimation of the age of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus (Marsupialia: Phascolarctidae) from tooth wear and growth. Australian Mammalogy 14, 5–12.

Gordon, G. , Brown, A. S. , and Pulsford, T. (1988). A koala (Phascolarctos cinereus Goldfuss) population crash during drought and heatwave conditions in south-western Queensland. Australian Journal of Ecology 13, 451–461.
CrossRef |

Gordon G., McGreevy D. G., and Laurie B. C. (1990). Koala populations in Queensland: major limiting factors. In ‘Biology of the Koala’. (Eds A. K. Lee, K. A. Handasyde and G. D. Sanson.) pp. 85–95. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Harris, S. , Cresswell, W. J. , Forde, P. G. , Trewhella, W. J. , Woollard, T. , and Wray, S. (1990). Home-range analysis using radio-tracking data – a review of problems and techniques particularly as applied to the study of mammals. Mammal Review 20, 97–123.

Hasegawa M. (1995). Habitat utilisation by koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) at Point Halloran, Queensland. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Hindell, M. A. , and Lee, A. K. (1987). Habitat use and tree preferences of koalas in a mixed eucalypt forest. Australian Wildlife Research 14, 349–360.
CrossRef |

Hindell, M. A. , and Lee, A. K. (1988). Tree use by individual koalas in a natural forest. Australian Wildlife Research 15, 1–7.
CrossRef |

Hindell M. A., and Lee A. K. (1990). Tree preferences of the koala. In ‘Biology of the Koala’. (Eds A. K. Lee, K. A. Handasyde and G. D. Sanson.) pp. 117–121. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Hindell, M. A. , Handasyde, K. A. , and Lee, A. K. (1985). Tree species selection by free-ranging koala populations in Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 12, 137–144.
CrossRef |

Hooge P. N., and Eichenlaub B. (1997). Animal movement extension to Arcview version 1.1. Alaska Science Center, Biological Science Office, US Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK.

Hume I. D. (1999). ‘Marsupial Nutrition.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Jurskis V., and Potter M. (1997). Koala surveys, ecology and conservation at Eden. State Forests of New South Wales Research Paper No. 34. State Forests of New South Wales, Sydney.

Jurskis V., Rowell D., and Ridley D. (1994). Survey techniques and aspects of the ecology of the koala near Eden. State Forests of New South Wales Research Paper No. 22. State Forests of New South Wales, Sydney.

Kavanagh R., and Barrott E. (2001). Koala populations in the Pilliga forests. In ‘Perfumed Pineries: Environmental History of Australia’s Callitris Forests’. (Eds J. Dargavel, D. Hart and B. Libbis.) pp. 93–103. (CRES, Australian National University: Canberra.)

Kavanagh, R. P. , and Lambert, M. J. (1990). Food selection by the greater glider Petauroides volans: is foliar nitrogen a determinant of habitat quality? Australian Wildlife Research 17, 285–299.
CrossRef |

Kavanagh, R. P. , Debus, S. , Tweedie, T. , and Webster, R. (1995). Distribution of nocturnal forest birds and mammals in north-eastern New South Wales: relationships with environmental variables and management history. Wildlife Research 22, 359–377.
CrossRef |

Kie J. G., Baldwin J. A., and Evans C. J. (1994). ‘CALHOME: Home Range Analysis Program.’ (USDA Forest Service, PSW Research Station: Fresno, CA.)

Larkin, R. P. , and Halkin, D. (1994). A review of software packages for estimating animal home ranges. Wildlife Society Bulletin 22, 274–287.

Lawson, E. J. G. , and Rogers, A. R. (1997). Differences in home-range size computed in commonly used software programs. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25, 721–729.

Lithgow K. (1980). Aspects of the feeding ecology of the koala Phascolarctos cinereus in Victoria. B.Sc.(Honours) Thesis, Monash University, Melbourne.

Lunney D., Curtin A. L., Ayers D., Cogger H. G., Dickman C. R., Maitz W., Law B., and Fisher D. (2000). The threatened and non-threatened vertebrate fauna of New South Wales: status and ecological attributes. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Environmental and Heritage Monograph Series No. 4. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney.

Lunney, D. , Gresser, S. M. , Mahon, P. S. , and Matthews, A. (2004). Post-fire survival and reproduction of rehabilitated and unburnt koalas. Biological Conservation 120, 567–575.
CrossRef |

Lunt, I. D. , Jones, N. , Spooner, P. G. , and Petrow, M. (2006). Effects of European colonisation on indigenous ecosystems: post-settlement changes in tree stand structures in EucalyptusCallitris woodlands in central New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Biogeography 33, 1102–1115.
CrossRef |

Martin, R. W. (1985). Overbrowsing and decline of a population of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, in Victoria. I. Food preference and food tree defoliation. Australian Wildlife Research 12, 355–365.
CrossRef |

Martin R., and Handasyde K. (1990). Population dynamics of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in southeastern Australia. In ‘Biology of the Koala’. (Eds A. K. Lee, K. A. Handasyde and G. D. Sanson.) pp. 75–84. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Martin R. W., and Handasyde K. A. (1995). Koala. In ‘The Mammals of Australia’. (Ed. R. Strahan.) pp. 196–198. (Reed Books: Sydney.)

Melzer A. (1995). Aspects of the ecology of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss, 1817), in the sub-humid woodlands of central Queensland. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Mitchell P. (1990). The home ranges and social activity of koalas – a quantitative analysis. In ‘Biology of the Koala’. (Eds A. K. Lee, K. A. Handasyde and G. D. Sanson) pp. 171–187. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Mohr, C. O. (1947). Table of equivalent populations of North American small mammals. American Midland Naturalist 37, 223–249.
CrossRef |

Moore B. D., Wallis I. R., Marsh K. J., and Foley W. J. (2004). The role of nutrition in the conservation of the marsupial folivores of eucalypt forests. In ‘Conservation of Australia’s Forest Fauna’. 2nd edn. (Ed. D. Lunney.) pp. 549–575. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Munks, S. A. , Corkrey, R. , and Foley, W. J. (1996). Characteristics of arboreal marsupial habitat in the semi-arid woodlands of northern Queensland. Wildlife Research 23, 185–195.
CrossRef |

Newell, G. R. (1999). Responses of Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) to loss of habitat within a tropical rainforest fragment. Biological Conservation 91, 181–189.
CrossRef |

Norris, E. H. , Mitchell, P. B. , and Hart, D. M. (1991). Vegetation changes in the Pilliga forests: a preliminary evaluation of the evidence. Vegetatio 91, 209–218.
CrossRef |

Phillips, S. , Callaghan, J. , and Thompson, V. (2000). The tree species preferences of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) inhabiting forest and woodland communities on Quaternary deposits in the Port Stephens area, New South Wales. Wildlife Research 27, 1–10.
CrossRef |

Phillips W. (1990). ‘Koalas. The Little Australians We’d All Hate To Lose.’ (Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service: Canberra.)

Pieters C. W., and Woodall P. F. (1996). Daily movement patterns and habitat utilisation of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) exposed to different levels of habitat modification. In ‘Koalas – Research for Management’. (Ed. G. Gordon.) pp. 23–28. (World Koala Research Incorporated: Brisbane.)

Reed P. C., and Lunney D. (1990). Habitat loss: the key problem for the long-term survival of koalas in New South Wales. In ‘Koala Summit: Managing the Koala in NSW’. (Eds D. Lunney, C. A. P. Urquhart and P. C. Reed.) pp. 9–31. (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service: Sydney.)

Reed P. C., Lunney D., and Walker P. (1990). 1986–1987 survey of the koala Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss) in New South Wales and an ecological interpretation of its distribution. In ‘Biology of the Koala’. (Eds A. K. Lee, K. A. Handasyde and G. D. Sanson.) pp. 55–74. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Robbins M., and Russell E. (1978). Observations on movements and feeding activity of the koala in a semi-natural situation. In ‘The Koala: Proceedings of the Taronga Symposium on Koala Biology, Management and Medicine’. (Ed. T. J. Bergin) pp. 29–44. (Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Rolls E. (1981). ‘A Million Wild Acres: 200 Years of Man and an Australian Forest.’ (Nelson: Melbourne.)

Seaman, D. E. , and Powell, R. A. (1996). An evaluation of the accuracy of kernel density estimators for home range analysis. Ecology 77, 2075–2085.
CrossRef |

Smith A. P. (2004). Koala conservation and habitat requirements in a timber production forest in north-east New South Wales. In ‘Conservation of Australia’s Forest Fauna’. 2nd edn. (Ed. D. Lunney.) pp. 591–611. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Tyndale-Biscoe, C. H. , and Smith, R. F. C. (1969). Studies on the marsupial glider, Schoinobates volans (Kerr). III. Response to habitat destruction. Journal of Animal Ecology 38, 651–659.
CrossRef |

van Kempen E. (1997). ‘A History of the Pilliga Cypress Pine Forests.’ (State Forests of New South Wales: Sydney).

White, N. A. (1999). Ecology of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in rural south-east Queensland Wildlife Research 26, 731–744.
CrossRef |

White N. A., and Kunst N. D. (1990). Aspects of the ecology of the koala in south-eastern Queensland. In ‘Biology of the Koala’. (Eds A. K. Lee, K. A. Handasyde and G. D. Sanson.) pp. 109–116. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Worton, B. J. (1989). Kernel methods for estimating the utilization distribution in home-range studies. Ecology 70, 164–168.
CrossRef |

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (20)

View Altmetrics