Drinking stations for thirsty koalas could help save iconic Aussie species: study

SYDNEY, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Koalas would greatly benefit from artificial watering stations to help them endure the effects of climate change, a study by the University of Sydney (UoS) revealed on Thursday.

Study author Valentina Mella and colleagues observed koala drinking behavior over a period of 12 months and found that particularly in the hotter and drier months, artificial drinking stations were regularly utilized.

“We weren’t sure if the water stations could be used to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events,” Dr. Mella said.

“But our results clearly show koalas will regularly use these stations to supplement their water needs.”

Mella said that as climate change worsens and droughts become more extreme, the strategy could also be useful to support species such as gliders and possums in Australia and sloths, lemurs and some monkeys on other continents.

However, according to Mella, koalas are of particular concern due to the effects that climate change will have on their food source.

“It is predicted that increased CO2 emissions will increase the level of phenolics and tannins in eucalyptus leaves,” Dr. Mella said.

“This means koalas will need alternative strategies to find water and that’s where we can help with drinking stations.”

One of the issues faced by Mella’s team is that predators and feral species are also attracted to water, putting the koalas in even more danger, to mitigate this risk they developed drinking stations which are inaccessible to ground-based predators.

[ Editor: WPY ]
 

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