Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Killing Koalas with Cars, Dogs and Disease

By David Salt

Managing threatened species requires management of multiple threats. Conservation of koalas is a point in case.

David Salt is Knowledge Broker for the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis centre at the Australian National University.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It’s rare that saving a threatened species involves doing just one thing. Take the koala, for example.

Across much of eastern Australia the koala is declining due to habitat loss, disease, vehicle collisions, dog attacks and climate change. Many of these threats result in higher death rates and often occur together. Therefore recovery strategies for koala populations need to employ strategies that address multiple threats.

That’s a complex challenge, and until now there has been little attempt to quantify the relative impact of each threat on rates of mortality. A new analysis by researchers at the University of Queensland has sought to remedy this. They hope to enhance efforts to protect koalas while providing a more robust approach to drawing up recovery plans for species facing multiple threats.

“Understanding the combined effects of multiple threats for threatened species is a key priority in the design of species recovery plans,” says Dr Jonathan Rhodes, the lead researcher of the study and a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions. “Without quantitative information, identifying appropriate recovery actions is difficult, and yet it’s an issue that has received limited attention to date. We addressed this problem for koalas by quantifying the consequences of multiple threats on a declining koala population...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.