Movement of free-ranging koalas in response to male vocalisation playbacks

Jiang, Alex Zijian and Murray, Peter ORCID: and Phillips, Clive and Tribe, Andrew and Ellis, William (2022) Movement of free-ranging koalas in response to male vocalisation playbacks. Animals, 12 (3):287.

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Effective conservation strategies rely on knowledge of seasonal and social drivers of animal behaviour. Koalas are generally solitary and their social arrangement appears to rely on vocal and chemical signalling. Male koala vocalisations, known as bellows, are believed to be closely related to their breeding behaviour. Previous research suggests that oestrous female koalas use bellows to locate unique males to mate with, and that males can similarly use bellows to evaluate the physical attributes of their peers. We tested the behavioural responses of 20 free ranging koalas to bellow recordings collected from small (<6 kg) and large (>8.5 kg) adult male koalas. Individual koala movement was reported by hourly-uploaded GPS coordinates. We report evidence of intra-male competition, with adult males approaching bellow playbacks, particularly those from small-sized males. In contrast, males under three years of age were averse to the playbacks. No patterns in the response of females were detected. Our results provide the strongest evidence yet that bellows are primarily a means by which males occupy and control space during the breeding season. Future studies are required to see if female response to bellows depends on their reproductive status.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current – Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agriculture and Environmental Science (1 Jan 2022 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2022 04:13
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2022 00:16
Uncontrolled Keywords: Phascolarctos cinereus; marsupial; social structure; communication; mating strategy; behavioural ecology; reproductive behaviour; wildlife conservation
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180699 Terrestrial systems and management not elsewhere classified
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