Science Diary: Koalas- Goats

Koalas – GoatsMusic; Ambience: goatsAM: The goats were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, as a way of helping ship-wrecked sailors. They were introduced all the way up and down the coast.JM: Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. We’re on St Bees Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It’s home to koalas, wallabies and goats. AM: We’ve never heard of any records at all of anyone being able to survive a shipwreck and then wrestle a goat on a rocky hill. But the goats have prospered wherever they’ve been released.JM: Earthwatch Scientist Alistair Melzer studies koalas, which, like the goats, were brought by humans to the island. The problem with the goats is that they appear to be eating the seedlings that grow into the trees that koalas feed upon.AM: They’re progressively altering the vegetation. Destroying lots of vegetation types. Ok, so that’s it. Two guys to go with Peter to unload, please?! OK. We’ve gone into a partnership with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, where we’re going to start to study the effects of removing the goats from the island. What we’re going to do is to build some exclosures. So, these are fences where we keep the goats out and wallabies out from some vegetated areas. One of the problems we’ve got is that the food trees for the koalas is not regrowing. We do not see any seedlings of those. We think that may be due to either the feral goats and the feral wallabies eating those seedlings or the lack of fire. Euclypt trees in Australia are fire adaptive and often their seeds germinate after a fire in the bare ground that follows.JM: But starting controlled fires could have a negative impact on the koala population. So for now, it looks like the goats will be eliminated, which will give the euclypts the trees the koalas feed upon a change to recover. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.

Science Diary: Koalas- Goats

The koalas of Australia's St. Bee's Island have an unlikely adversary - goats.
Air Date:05/07/2007
Scientist:
Transcript:

Koalas - GoatsMusic; Ambience: goatsAM: The goats were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, as a way of helping ship-wrecked sailors. They were introduced all the way up and down the coast.JM: Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. We're on St Bees Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It's home to koalas, wallabies and goats. AM: We've never heard of any records at all of anyone being able to survive a shipwreck and then wrestle a goat on a rocky hill. But the goats have prospered wherever they've been released.JM: Earthwatch Scientist Alistair Melzer studies koalas, which, like the goats, were brought by humans to the island. The problem with the goats is that they appear to be eating the seedlings that grow into the trees that koalas feed upon.AM: They're progressively altering the vegetation. Destroying lots of vegetation types. Ok, so that's it. Two guys to go with Peter to unload, please?! OK. We've gone into a partnership with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, where we're going to start to study the effects of removing the goats from the island. What we're going to do is to build some exclosures. So, these are fences where we keep the goats out and wallabies out from some vegetated areas. One of the problems we've got is that the food trees for the koalas is not regrowing. We do not see any seedlings of those. We think that may be due to either the feral goats and the feral wallabies eating those seedlings or the lack of fire. Euclypt trees in Australia are fire adaptive and often their seeds germinate after a fire in the bare ground that follows.JM: But starting controlled fires could have a negative impact on the koala population. So for now, it looks like the goats will be eliminated, which will give the euclypts the trees the koalas feed upon a change to recover. Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.