Our mission

South East Queensland (SE-QLD) koalas are currently undergoing a major population decline. Data on major causes of koala disease or injury have been collected, but no detailed epidemiological studies on morbidity and mortality exist. Additionally, a lack of standardised pathological analysis and scientific data management procedures to compile and analyse disease and mortalities, are major constraints on understanding the threats to SE-QLD koalas.

In this project, the UQ School of Veterinary Science (UQ-SVS), in conjunction with major koala hospitals, are developing a standardised post-mortem examination and disease recording nomenclature for koala mortality and morbidity. A reference diagnostic service and a centralised tissue collection bank will also be established at UQ-SVS. KoalaBASE, an online database and research tool summarising data collected on koala mortality and morbidity in SE-QLD, will be developed and used to identify trends in disease patterns, construct threat maps for specific diseases and sub-populations, and provide a real-time alert system for future disease outbreaks. Furthermore, a detailed analysis of historical mortality and morbidity data, and a detailed prospective pathological analysis will be undertaken to better understand disease and injury threats to this iconic species.

Project timeline

The project commenced in July 2013 when a Koala Diagnostic Reference Centre and a Koala Tissue Bank were first established at UQ-SVS. An online database (www.koalabase.com.au) has also been developed for authorised users. These users will be koala hospitals in SE-QLD, members of the Queensland Government and authorised researchers.

Our people

The chief investigators on this project are Dr Joerg Henning (j.henning@uq.edu.au), a Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology and Dr Rachel Allavena (r.allavena@uq.edu.au), a Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Pathology and a Specialist Veterinary Anatomic Pathologist.

PhD student and veterinarian, Viviana Gonzalez Astudillo (v.gonzalez@uq.edu.au) commenced work on this project in April 2014.