National Koala Genome Project

We are working with researchers at James Cook University, University of Sydney and San Diego Zoo Global, using ground-breaking technology to conserve koalas right across their range from Queensland to South Australia. Using whole-genome DNA, we can work out how different koalas are from each other and how to manage them. 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. Our research aims to answer this question so koalas can be managed effectively.

We can also work out which populations used to be connected to each so we can inform the development of wildlife corridors to restore gene flow and reconnect habitats. Importantly, by finding out which koalas are “fittest” or have the most genetic diversity, we can help prioritise populations for management.

Preliminary genetic studies showed koalas in the Blue Mountains have genetic diversity as high as any other population in Australia, which is why we have initiated our Blue Mountains Koala Project to find out more about these local koalas.