SciDi: Koalas – Success
Music; Ambience: walking through brush, radio communication
Melzer: “And a koala can be in anything here. It could be in like this little tree behind you.”
Using radio tracking devices, a team of volunteers is searching for koalas on island off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.
Melzer: “Then you should retrace your steps to where you got your best signal. Over.”
Male Voice: “Roger that. Thank you.”
Melzer: “So, I’ve been fitting koalas with radio transmitting collars and following them around through the forest, seeing what trees they use, how far they move, what their diet is, generally coming to understand how the koalas are using their habitat.”
Biologist Alistair Melzer has been teaching his Earthwatch volunteers radio tracking skills, and on this day, their patience and persistence finally pay off.
Male Voice: “Yeah, I think that what we should do is we should go down that way.”
Woman’s Voice: “There it is. You’re amazing Yup, for sure, there’s two, mom and baby.”
Woman’s Voice: “Straight up. Ok, let’s not make a lot of noise.”
Jim: “I can see it now. I can see its bum.”
Woman’s Voice: “Which female is this, Andy?”
Andy: “This is Natasha.”
Woman’s Voice: “Natasha, and Natasha has a young joey. I’m not sure, but it’s definitely less than one year. Hello Alistair, are you there? Ok, just to say that we found Natasha and she also has a joey.”
Melzer: “Oh, good. Just go for nearest neighbors, excellent. Back with you soon.”
Woman’s Voice: “So we take measurements of the tree that the koala is in. And then we need to make a small grid, just running north south east west, based on the center of the tree. And then for each direction, we pick the closest tree within that grid, just to give an idea what the koala is being found in and around.”
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research. I’m Jim Metzner.