The distribution and abundance of an island population of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in the far north of their geographic range

McGregor, Denise C., Kerr, Sarah E., and Krockenberger, Andrew K. (2013) The distribution and abundance of an island population of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in the far north of their geographic range. PLoS ONE, 8 (3). e59713. pp. 1-9.

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Koalas are an iconic species of charismatic megafauna, of substantial social and conservation significance. They are widely distributed, often at low densities, and individuals can be difficult to detect, making population surveys challenging and costly. Consequently, koala population estimates have been limited and the results inconsistent. The aims of this study were to estimate the distribution, relative abundance and population size of the koalas on Magnetic Island, far north Queensland. Population densities were estimated in 18 different vegetation types present on the island using a Fecal Standing Crop Method. Koala density ranged from 0.404 ha−1, recorded in forest red gum and bloodwood woodland, to absence from eight of the vegetation types surveyed. The second highest density of 0.297 koalas ha−1 was recorded in mixed eucalypt woodland, which covers 45% of the island. The total abundance of koalas on Magnetic Island, not including those present in urban areas, was estimated at 825±175 (SEM). The large variation in koala density across vegetation types reinforces the need for sampling stratification when calculating abundance over large areas, as uniformity of habitat quality cannot be assumed. In this context, koala populations also occur in low densities in areas generally regarded as poor quality koala habitat. These results highlight the importance of protecting vegetation communities not traditionally considered to have high conservation value to koalas, as these habitats may be essential for maintaining viable, widespread, low-density populations. The results from this study provide a baseline to assess future trends in koala distribution, density and abundance on Magnetic Island.

Item ID: 26940
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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© 2013 McGregor et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Date Deposited: 15 May 2013 09:31
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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