Research on Teresa Cochrane’s Moripo Plantation Reveals Important Data on Koala Diets | Port Macquarie News


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Teresa Cochrane feels a strong connection with koalas. Proud woman Dunghutti, who is a former resident of Port Macquarie (Birpai country), discovered that the koala was the people’s totem pole of her great-great-grandfather, King Bennelong. Ms Cochrane is an Honors student at Charles Sturt University and has conducted research on koala food trees grown on the Moripo Plantation, west of Port Macquarie. The data will be used to compare the diet choice of koalas at Koala Hospital. Ms. Cochrane specializes in the conservation of ecology within her Bachelor of Science and Environmental Management (Honors). Through her research, Ms. Cochrane discovered that there are reasons for the species’ specialized diet. “I learned that koalas have the ability, through smell and taste, to identify the chemical makeup of a eucalyptus leaf,” she said. “They can smell it and know how many nutrients it has.” Ms Cochrane commented on the species’ recent victory, after the state government purchased prime land for koalas adjacent to the Innes Lake Nature Reserve in Port Macquarie. “Koalas will now have the ability to choose which foliage they want to eat, in order to get the best possible diet.” Ms Cochrane said koalas are often described as picky eaters because sometimes they smell a leaf and not eat it. “However, that just means the leaf doesn’t have the right amount of nutrients for them.” Her association with Koala Hospital began when she became a volunteer in 2018, after researching practical information to support her university studies. Ms Cochrane started a work experience in Moripo and helped the plantation manager at the start of the project to set up the network guide, irrigation and volunteer organization. Ms Cochrane hopes her research will be a springboard for further research and a doctorate in eucalyptus tree and plant ecology, koala feeding behavior and diet. “There is so much we still don’t know about an animal that is such an icon,” she said. “Understanding the species is complex.” The low nutritional content of eucalyptus leaves means that koalas have to sleep for long periods of time to allow their bodies to digest their food. “It is important that they eat the most appropriate diet possible while they are awake,” Cochrane said. “Even though the trees are of the same species, koalas are selective about the leaves of trees they will eat.” Our reporters work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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