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

Koalas on North Stradbroke Island: diet, tree use and reconstructed landscapes

W. Woodward A B , W. A. Ellis A C E , F. N. Carrick A , M. Tanizaki A , D. Bowen A and P. Smith D

A Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

B The School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

C Miscellaneous Ecology Group, School of Integrative Biology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

D Consolidated Rutile Limited, PO Box 47, Dunwich, Qld 4183, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: w.ellis@uq.edu.au

Wildlife Research 35(7) 606-611 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR07172
Submitted: 9 November 2007  Accepted: 16 June 2008   Published: 17 November 2008

Abstract

North Stradbroke Island lies 4 km off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It is home to one of the only naturally occurring island populations of koalas and it is mined for mineral sands. We analysed the diet and day use tree selections of koalas and recorded the tree species composition of revegetated and undisturbed landscapes at this location. We used faecal cuticle examination to compare the diet of koalas that used reconstructed landscapes with that of koalas that used undisturbed areas. Reconstructed landscapes that were composed of more than 95% diet and/or roost tree species had evidence of use by koalas. Eucalyptus robusta was the most commonly eaten and utilised species and there was no difference in general diet composition between koalas that used the revegetated landscape and those inhabiting undisturbed areas. Other species that were used for roosting and forage included E. racemosa, E. pilularis, Lophostemon confertus and Melaleuca quinquinerva. We observed individual differences and seasonal variation in the diet composition of radio-tracked koalas. These results suggest either flexibility in the diet choices of koalas, or individual preferences within groups of koalas. Our results also indicate that post-mining landscapes can provide habitat that will be used by koalas, which should encourage further efforts into habitat re-creation for native species.


Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the traditional owners of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) who supported this project and who provided expert koala tracking. Jane Holland, Jack Jackson and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Koala Research Unit provided assistance with fieldwork. Glenn Nolan and Chas Capelli assisted with data analysis. Bill Ellis is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the centre for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species, Zoological Society of San Diego. This research was funded by Consolidated Rutile Limited and the Koala Study Program at the University of Queensland. Queensland Environmental Protection Agency provided the permits to work with koalas (WISP00491302). This project was carried out under The University of Queensland animal ethics permit ZOO/ENT/115/04/RT.


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