Welcome to our post-grad researchers..

First semester has started and we are pleased to be working with three new post-graduate students from the University of Sydney – Raquel Chun, Stephanie Glasby, and Alice McGlashan. The students are undertaking a Masters Degree in Wildlife Health and Population Management and have elected to do their individual research projects with Science for Wildlife (S4W). They are all participating in our Blue Mountains Koala Project – Stephanie and Raquel are out in the field tracking koalas and will be evaluating koala home ranges and habitat use, and also figuring out the best survey methods to use in the very rugged sites we are working in.

The tall forests and thick canopy are likely to play havoc with the GPS trackers that we have deployed on a few koalas – things are never simple in the world of high tech tracking equipment and there is a good reason for the saying “never work with animals”. We anticipate that the pilot study that Stephanie and Raquel are taking on will give us some firm directions for scaling up the project later this year.

Alice is doing a study on community engagement and will be running workshops to help us build support for the project both in the local area and in Sydney. The more eyes we have out there looking for koalas the better, as we have a huge area to cover to map out koala distribution in the Blue Mountains. Alice is also a GIS whiz and will help with mapping out likely koala habitats for further surveys.

Scott Bevins from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) is into his last semester for his Honours Project on koala diet and nutrition. Scott and his UWS supervisor Dr Ben Moore have been collaborators on our koala ecological studies since last year, and are working with us on everything from koala capture and collaring to Scott trekking through the thick bush and challenging terrain all day to find just two or three koalas. We are looking forward to the results from all that hard work and his extensive scat analysis, and finding out how our Blue Mountains koalas fare compared to their cousins in other areas who have very different trees to eat.

Photo: Post-graduate research students (from left) Alice McGlashan, Scott Bevins, Raquel Chun and Stephanie Glasby.