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Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

Distribution

Eastern and southeastern Australia

  • From Cooktown (northern Queensland) to southeastern South Australia
  • In Queensland, area of occupancy has contracted by 30% since European settlement in the 1800s (Gordon et al. 2006)
  • Area extends from about 20°S to 40°S over some 2000 km (1243 mi) (Ellis et al 2010a)

Disjunct distribution (isolated pockets) across range
At time of European contact in early 1800s, koalas occupied up to six islands off eastern and southeastern coastlines (Jackson 2007)
Introduced onto at least 20 islands since 1870s, including one in Tasmania (Jackson 2007)

Habitat

Forests and semi-open woodlands and on coastal islands (Ellis et al. 2009)
Greatest preference for trees growing in highly fertile soils
Landscape characteristics of habitat

  • Usually poor soils, a relatively arid environment, possibilities of fire
  • Grasslands dominate
  • Large trees preferred (Hindell & Lee 1990)
  • Readily use human modified landscapes (farms, range lands, suburban areas) in foraging efforts
  • In studies of tracked koalas at St. Bees Island, Queensland (Ellis & Bercovitch 2007) (Ellis et al. 2009):
    • Open-canopy trees used more at night
    • Closed canopy in day when temperatures hotter

Koala habitat use probably regulated by:

  • Toxicity of Eucalyptus leaves
  • Patchy distribution of Eucalyptus
  • Koalas' slow metabolic rate and need to limit water loss by evaporation
    • Finding a good resting tree out of sun in daytime is vital (Takahashi et al 2007)
  • Movements of other koalas

Distribution Map

Koala map

Koala distribution. Click on map for more detailed distribution at IUCN website.

From IUCN Phascolarctos cinereus fact sheet 2010

Page Citations

Ellis & Bercovitch (2007)
Ellis et al. (2009)
Ellis et al (2010a)
Gordon et al. (2006)
Hindell & Lee (1990)
Jackson (2007)
Martin (2001)
Sharp (1995)

Takahashi et al (2007)

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