Koala populations would once have stretched across the Australia, but new research shows they have shrunk to the point where we could lose them forever.
This cautioning article could be used alongside Biological and Earth and Space Sciences for years 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
Word Count / Video Length: 407 / 1:45 mins
New tracking has shown that koala populations are being impacted by habitat loss, which leaves them facing possible extinction.
Koala populations have disappeared from Western Australia
The pattern of koala populations suggests that forests of eucalyptus trees extended across the continent in the past few hundred thousand years. But there has been a rapid loss of forests over the past 7,000 years. As the forests retracted eastwards, koala populations disappeared, and they are currently only found on the south-eastern and eastern coasts.
“We found that climate change caused koala population extinctions in south-western Australia and in the Nullarbor Plain. We also showed that future climate patterns will likely increase the extinction risk of koalas in their remaining eastern ranges.”
Koalas are likely to face future declines
Lead researcher, Corey Bradshaw from Flinders University says there is hope for the most quintessential of Australian fauna — if action is taken to protect existing habitats and replace those already destroyed.
“Climate change has already reduced global biodiversity and will continue to do so, driving sometimes rapid shifts in the distributions and abundance of many species, and possibly driving many to local extinction in the near future. On that front, Australia and its unique species — the koala — is not exceptional.”
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