A review of feeding and diet selection in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

  title={A review of feeding and diet selection in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)},
  author={Ben D. Moore and William J. Foley},
  journal={Australian Journal of Zoology},
  • B. Moore, W. Foley
  • Published 30 June 2000
  • Environmental Science
  • Australian Journal of Zoology
Food quality and availability are believed to be primary determinants of habitat quality for koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), so we need to know ‘what makes good food for koalas?’ An answer to this question must define the dietary niche of koalas, describe how much koalas eat and also consider variation in food choice by koalas at several scales. Ultimately, all these issues must be related to variation in foliar chemistry. Recent studies have shown that there is a closer relationship between… 

Tables from this paper

The dietary preferences of koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus, in southwest Queensland

leaf chemicals (moisture, total nitrogen, total phenolics, and a nutrition index) were significantly related to tree species, surface water availability, soil type and proximi...

Dietary specialization and Eucalyptus species preferences in Queensland koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus).

It is concluded that food selectivity among koalas is probably due to multiple factors, rather than only a consequence of secondary plant chemicals, which probably interact to shape koala foraging preferences.

Ecology and management of overabundant koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations

The age of koalaas was determined by examining growth curves based on head length in juveniles and the relationship between chronological age and tooth wear in known-age koalas and the accuracy of predicting age using growth curves decreased with increasing head length, which allowed age to be calculated within + two months.

Dietary selectivity in the green ringtail possum Pseudochirops archeri: the effect of plant secondary metabolites on food preference

This study investigates dietary preference at the level of tree species and individual trees within preferred species, the techniques for determining diet, the nutritional characteristics that were determinants of preference, and the use of a rapid, non-destructive technique for determining nutritional characteristics of rainforest foliage.

Eucalyptus foliar chemistry explains selective feeding by koalas

It is suggested that plant defences probably play an important role in determining the distribution and abundance of koalas, and may have facilitated the evolutionary divergence of these species.

Feeding Patterns and Dietary Profile of Nocturnal Southern Woolly Lemurs (Avahi meridionalis) in Southeast Madagascar

The dietary flexibility within a single genus of primates that seems to be driven by environmental constraints rather than morphological or physiological adaptations is illustrated.

Comparative dietary ecology of two congeneric marsupial folivores

The diets of sympatrically occurring folivorous congenerics, common and mountain brushtail possums, are described and compared to show that common brushtails relied heavily on eucalypt foliage, particularly very young leaves, which is consistent with data from captive studies on their dietary physiology.

A review of climatic change as a determinant of the viability of koala populations

Abstract. The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) occupies a broad range of eastern and southern Australia, extending over tropical coastal, semiarid inland and temperate regions. In many areas koala

Palatability mapping: a koala's eye view of spatial variation in habitat quality.

Spatial autocorrelation analysis and several mapping approaches demonstrated that foliar quality is spatially structured in the woodland at a scale relevant to foraging decisions by koalas and that the spatial structure is an important component of habitat quality.

Revisiting the dietary niche: When is a mammalian herbivore a specialist?

The need for further work on defining the realized and fundamental niches, comparing among herbivores across categories conducted under similar conditions, and understanding the nature of trade-offs required for specialization and generalization for both community and phylogenetically based analyses is demonstrated.



A relative shortage of nitrogenous food in the ecology of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

It is proposed that the level of available nitrogenous food is the major limiting influence on the abundance of the koala and social behaviour enables a few koalas to acquire sufficient food while the majority of the population is subject to a relative shortage of food.

Nutrients, Antinutrients and Leaf Selection by Captive Koalas (Phascolarctos-Cinereus)

It appears that koalas may use eucalypt oils as a positive feeding cue, and that they prefer oils with a relatively high proportion of volatile monoterpenes.

Overbrowsing, and decline of a population of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, in Victoria. I. Food preference and food tree defoliation

Tree usage by koalas as a measure of foliage preference was analysed for 2 yr in an open forest near Walkerville, Victoria, containing 3 Eucalyptus species, and it was suggested that theKoalas select foliage so as to maximize their intake of crude protein.

Foliage of Eucalyptus punctata and the maintenance nitrogen requirements of koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus

It was concluded that relatively high losses of endogenous and microbial nitrogen in faeces are a consequence of feeding on Eucalyptus foliage and that the koala's low standard metabolic rate is an important adaptation permitting it to utilize this diet by partly compensating for faecal nitrogen losses.

Tree Use by Individual Koalas in a Natural Forest

E. viminalis, the preferred species of this population, was the predominant tree species within the home range of 15 of the koalas, which may account for the lack of evidence of preference in the majority of animals.


It is concluded that significant patchiness in nutritional quality of foliage, resulting from variation in foliar concentrations of a single compound, exists at a scale relevant to the feeding decisions of individual animals.

Aspects of the ecology of the koala in southeastern Queensland

Preliminary data on a Phascolarctos cinereus population in the Redland Shire, near Brisbane, shows a preference was shown for seven of the 14 tree species present; all preferred species belonged to Eucalyptus.

Intraspecific variation in Eucalyptus secondary metabolites determines food intake by folivorous marsupials

It is argued that, when in sufficiently high concentrations, DFPs determine the level of food intake by these animals irrespective of other questions of nutritional quality of the leaves.

Overbrowsing, and decline of a population of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, in Victoria. III. Population dynamics

Juvenile and sub-adult koalas from a population at Walkerville, Victoria, which was severely defoliating its preferred food trees, had significantly lower growth rates and the low fertility rate of the Walkerville females appeared to be due to their poor nutritional state and to reproductive tract disease.

Polyphenols and the Distribution of Arboreal, Folivorous Marsupials in Eucalyptus Forests of Australia

Two hypotheses are investigated: (1) the concentration of polyphenols in foliage increases as nutrient availability for growth decreases; and (2) the nutritional quality of foliage is higher in eucalypt communities favorable for arboreal, folivorous marsupials than in unfavorable communities, largely due to the influence ofpolyphenols.