Koala gene flow across landscapes

Of ghosts, fragmentation and scale-mismatches

Imagine being a koala trying to move about in southeast Queensland. You are faced with double-lane highways, urban sprawl and vast amounts of cleared land; not to mention a limited supply of nutritious eucalyptus leaves. What are the relative costs of these different obstacles for a koala on the move? How do these costs influence population connectivity? If you’re a manager seeking to facilitate koala movement and gene flow so that koala populations may be sustained, these are important questions to answer.

There’s another factor that needs to be kept in mind. Most of the management of koala populations in southeast Queensland (and for that matter, in most places in Australia), is conducted at the scale of local government areas (LGAs). It’s a complication because processes affecting koala populations operate at a different scale to the scale of LGAs. How do you deal with a scale-mismatch like this? We think our recent investigation provides some of the answers to both these challenges (ie, knowing how koalas move around, and how do you deal with a mismatch in management and ecological scales)…



Leave a Reply