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Failure to respond to food resource decline has catastrophic consequences for koalas in a high-density population in Southern Australia

Whisson, Desley A., Dixon, Victoria, Taylor, Megan L. and Melzer, Alistair 2016, Failure to respond to food resource decline has catastrophic consequences for koalas in a high-density population in Southern Australia, PLoS one, vol. 11, no. 1, Article Number : e0144348, pp. 1-12, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144348.

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Title Failure to respond to food resource decline has catastrophic consequences for koalas in a high-density population in Southern Australia
Author(s) Whisson, Desley A.ORCID iD for Whisson, Desley A. orcid.org/0000-0002-4221-0706
Dixon, Victoria
Taylor, Megan L.
Melzer, Alistair
Journal name PLoS one
Volume number 11
Issue number 1
Season Article Number : e0144348
Start page 1
End page 12
Total pages 12
Publisher Public Library of Science (PLOS)
Place of publication San Franciso, Calif.
Publication date 2016-01-06
ISSN 1932-6203
Summary Understanding the ability of koalas to respond to changes in their environment is critical for conservation of the species and their habitat. We monitored the behavioural response of koalas to declining food resources in manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) woodland at Cape Otway, Victoria, Australia, from September 2011 to November 2013. Over this period, koala population density increased from 10.1 to 18.4 koalas.ha-1. As a result of the high browsing pressure of this population, manna gum canopy condition declined with 71.4% manna gum being completely or highly defoliated in September 2013. Despite declining food resources, radio collared koalas (N = 30) exhibited high fidelity to small ranges (0.4-1.2 ha). When trees became severely defoliated in September 2013, koalas moved relatively short distances from their former ranges (mean predicted change in range centroid = 144 m) and remained in areas of 0.9 to 1.0 ha. This was despite the high connectivity of most manna gum woodland, and close proximity of the study site (< 3 km) to the contiguous mixed forest of the Great Otway National Park. Limited movement had catastrophic consequences for koalas with 71% (15/21) of radio collared koalas dying from starvation or being euthanased due to their poor condition between September and November 2013.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0144348
Field of Research 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
060208 Terrestrial Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30080732

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.