Conserving Koala Country

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Conserving Koala Country

The charismatic koala is a species beloved by many. But how is human-induced climate change reshaping its world?

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

This project is an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of koala behavior, numbers, and vulnerabilities.

By observing the responses of koalas to early manifestations of climate change, we can help protect and conserve their habitat for the future.

The koala is an iconic Australian species that attracts considerable public attention. The conservation status of the koala varies from secure in some areas to vulnerable or extinct in others. Climate change is likely to negatively impact koala populations, in part because of koalas’ low tolerance for prolonged hot weather, and in part because of the potential for more extreme and frequent bushfires.

Koala, Australia

Increasing temperatures, declining rainfall, and increased likelihood of fire are all threats facing koalas.

Higher densities of koalas in eucalyptus-dominated woodlands and, in some instances, concentrated browsing by koalas are causing a decline in tree condition and available food. Consequently, habitat change is occurring at a rapid rate, providing a unique opportunity to better understand the responses of koalas to a decline in food supply and habitat quality. In other words, today’s habitat change provides a lens through which it is possible to anticipate the potential impact of climate change on the species.

An understanding of the responses of koalas to environmental change is critical for conservation of their populations and habitats. This project is an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of koala behavior, numbers, and vulnerabilities—and, thus, a valuable tool for informing public policy decisions.

About the research area

Great Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia, Australia & South Pacific

Daily life in the field


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The Scientists


Lecturer in Wildlife and Conservation Biology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University

ABOUT Desley Whisson

Dr. Desley Whisson first began working with koalas in 2004 when she was a wildlife officer with the South Australian government on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. In addition to koalas, Desley is also fascinated by the alpine region and its wildlife and has a number of research projects underway in Victoria’s high country.


Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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