Changes in the nutritional landscape after forest disturbance – implications for koalas

Hosted By: Nutritional Ecology Working Group
Date: January 10, 5:00 pm

The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an Endangered Australian marsupial that specialises in eating leaves from a variety of Eucalyptus species. One of the key threats to koalas is the ongoing loss or modification of the eucalypt forests and woodlands where they live. I will describe some of our recent work to understand how variation in the nutritional composition of eucalypt leaves influences the distribution and abundance of koalas, and how disturbance events such as native timber harvesting and fire alter the nutritional landscape over both short and longer time scales. Our research highlights the need to understand where there may be synergies or contrasts between economic and conservation goals, because different landscape management strategies could alter the long-term carrying capacity of habitat for koalas.

Dr. Karen Marsh is head of the animal-plant interactions and nutritional ecology group at the Research School of Biology, Australian National University. Her research predominantly focuses on the feeding ecology and nutritional physiology of possums, gliders and koalas. She is particularly interested in how nutritional knowledge can be used to inform conservation and management decisions for these animals and their habitats.

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