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Student & Volunteer Projects

Koala Microbiome

Dr Michaela Blyton, Post-doctoral research fellow, Western Sydney University

The aim of the study was to investigate if the prevalence or strain of particular gastrointestinal bacteria vary across the koala’s range. One of these bacteria is Lonepinella koalarum, which has been shown to be a tannin-degrading bacterium and may be involved in detoxifying the koalas’ diet. L. koalarum was discovered at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in 1995.

The research team attempted to isolate this bacterium from faecal samples from Victorian and NSW koalas without success. Koala faecal samples from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary were supplied to determine if the isolation techniques are at fault, or whether L. koalarum is only found in some koala populations.

This project was part of a larger ARC Linkage Grant project.

How do patterns of prey bone damage differ between Australian raptor species

Dr Tiina Manne, Senior Researcher/Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Queensland

Understanding the various processes and kinds of animals that have affected an archaeological site is of particular interest to zooarchaeologists. Although studies of raptor damage to the digested bone have been carried out overseas, no dedicated studies had been conducted on Australian raptor bone surface modification. The study proposed to analyse damage to the bone from pellets deposited by different raptor species.

Lone Pine provided Tiina with a record of food types provided to each of our raptors, followed by a collection of pellets deposited after a meal. A minimum of 15-20 pellet samples from each species was supplied.

The degree of damage to each bone fragment was recorded, including pitting/loss of cortical bone, peck marks and breakage of bones.