The development of an improved scat survey method for koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Jiang, Alex and Tribe, Andrew and Murray, Peter ORCID: (2020) The development of an improved scat survey method for koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Australian Journal of Zoology, 67 (3). pp. 125-133. ISSN 0004-959X


Koala scat surveys are important tools for determining koala presence and distribution in large forested areas where it is impractical to conduct direct observation surveys. However, current scat survey methods are problematic due to lack of either accuracy or feasibility, i.e. they are either biased or very time-consuming in the field. This study aimed to establish a new koala scat survey method with improved accuracy compared with existing methods, and practical in the field. We developed a new Balanced Koala Scat Survey method (BKSS), and evaluated it in the field by analysing scat detectability variations and comparing it with a current survey method, the Spot Assessment Technique (SAT), to determine scat searching accuracy. The results revealed that current methods were biased by assigning consistent searching effort for all trees, because effective searching time to detect the first scat was significantly affected by Koala Activity Level (KAL – the proportion of trees found with scats among all 30 trees in a survey site). Compared with BKSS, SAT tended to yield more false negative outcomes; SAT may miss up to 46% of trees with scats when KAL was low. The application of BKSS is expected to greatly enhance the reliability of koala scat surveys in determining koala distribution and thus improve their conservation management.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 00:49
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2021 22:48
Uncontrolled Keywords: South-west Queensland; tree species preferences; habitat use; conservation; populations; Mulga Lands; abundance; area; diet
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410299 Ecological applications not elsewhere classified
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960505 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Forest and Woodlands Environments
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180699 Terrestrial systems and management not elsewhere classified
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