Like I have reported a lot on climate change and animal issues, another famous species is facing the threat of extinction due to humans. A resent study in Australia has reported that Koala numbers could drop unless Australia changes its land management practices in response to the hard hitting factors from climate change.
The research was lead by the University of Sydney and involved tracking 40 koalas by GPS over a three year period. The animals were tracked through farmland around Gunnedah, in northwest NSW. The results showed the nocturnal moments of koalas between eucalypts trees to eat and more shadier trees for shelter during the day from the daily hot temperatures. They found that koalas prefer cool, low-lying areas rather than open plains or hill, since they are prone to heat stress and dehydration if their habitat is lacking the shaded areas.
The study warns about cutting down shaded areas, because the species is at risk. Climate change has already caused widespread drought and heat waves. This study did take a hit in 2009 when a heat wave killed 25% of the koalas they tracked. Researchers acknowledge that the types of trees that the koalas depend on need to be maintained as climate change becomes more of an issue.
Without the trees, we would have no koalas. Mature trees are their primary habitat. The species depends on them to obtain moisture, eat, and sleep. Being large tree dwellers, koalas are more prone to the heat than smaller animals such as flying or burrowing animals.
Their shrinking habitat caused by climate change and habitat degradation also has caused problems with them obtaining food. Koalas are limited to a eucalypts based diet. Other studies have shown that warmer temperatures have changed the composition of this food source degrading it as a key source of nutrients.
For more information on the natural history of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus): click here