Groundbreaking new research into koala diversity

New research just out: Science for Wildlife is part of a project which uses new technology, whole-genome DNA to answer critical questions about koala conservation. To effectively manage koalas, we need to understand how different the populations across Australia are, and how genetically diverse they are or what their “fitness” level is.

For example we know koalas in the south (Victoria) are bigger and have thicker fur than those in Queensland, because they are adapted to different climates. So we know not to translocate koalas from Queensland to Victoria, but we don’t know where the management boundaries lie in between. Our research aims to answer this question so koalas can be managed effectively. The research can also guide corridor planning, and help to prioritise populations for management.

The first publication from this important national-scale project has just come out in Conservation Genetics – it is a technical paper on how new genetic tools can be used to asses and conserve our iconic koalas. The next paper assessing koala populations right across Australia will soon follow. We are working with James Cook University, the University of Sydney and San Diego Zoo Global on this project. Congratulations to PhD student Shannon Kjeldsen on this first important paper.

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