Koala Research - CQ

Koala Research – CQ, formally the Koala Research Centre of Central Queensland, is a community funded research program hosted by CQUniversity. The project receives support and/or funding from a variety of stakeholders, research partners, community partners and individuals. The research group has been operating since 1994. It was established to support on-going research and to initiate new projects on koala biology, habitat requirements and the effect on koala populations of rural, urban and industrial developments in Central Queensland.

Day to day management is provided by CQUniversity through the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences. CQUniversity provides financial oversight. Ethical oversight is provided by CQUniversity's Animal Ethics Committee. Dr Alistair Melzer is the Research Program Leader.

Find out more about our research sites.

A koala sitting on a wooden pole


    Dr Alistair Melzer

    Dr Alistair Melzer (PhD Ecology UQ) has been working in regional Queensland since 1989 when he commenced studies into koala ecology around Springsure in Central Queensland. Dr Melzer has worked with Queensland’s industry, government and community since 1995 to resolve environmental problems associated with project development and subsequent management. Alistair also pursues independent, applied research projects in partnership with state agencies, universities and the community. Currently, these include:

  • Koala conservation biology;
  • Restoration of koala habitat under climate change;
  • Management of environmental weeds and the recovery of fire sensitive ecosystems; and
  • Ecosystem change under pressure from climate change on Australia’s continental islands.
  • Dr Melzer has provided impartial, expert advice to community, industry, state (New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland) and federal agencies and local governments on a variety of environmental issues associated with conservation biology, biodiversity management, and environmental risks. He has been formally and informally involved in the recovery planning processes for the bridled nailtail wallaby, northern hairy-nosed wombat, and the yellow chat, as well as conservation planning for the koala and some ecosystems. Most recently, Dr Melzer was appointed to the Queensland Government’s expert panel to provide advice on ways to better protect koalas and provides advice to the New South Wales Natural Resource Commission on koala research strategy.

    Dr Melzer is an Adjunct Research Fellow at CQUniversity (formerly Director of the Centre for Environmental Management, CQUniversity, Gladstone). He has authored or co-authored over 50 scientific publications and more than 60 technical reports. He also continues to run koala research projects through CQUniversity.


Dr Flavia Santamaria

Dr Flavia Santamaria’s PhD, carried out in Victoria at the former University of Ballarat (now Federation University), looked at the impact of translocation on the health, food selection and movement of thirty koalas relocated from French Island to three forests around Ballarat. Both in Victoria and Queensland, she has worked on projects that included GIS mapping, vegetation and koala surveys. Flavia's current and future research focus are on koalas' response to stress and koala ecology, and in particular:

  • the impact of anthropogenic environmental changes on koala populations, including the potential pressure of environmental stress on the health of koalas (i.e. Chlamydia)
  • how long-term changes to structural diversity of partially cleared land, specifically the removal of middle storey vegetation, impacts on the nutrients of Eucalyptus's foliage.
  • educating communities on sustainability, as a way forward to improving the health of ecosystems using the Koala as a flagship species.


Published research (and in progress)

  • Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F., Golding, B. & Thomson, H.(2018). Why is it Important to use flagship species in community education? The Koala as a case study. Animal Studies Journal , 7(1): 127-148.
  • Wedrowicz, W., Wright, W., Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F. , Cahir, F. (2017). Landscape, koalas and people: A historical account of koala populations and their environment in South Gippsland. Australian Zoologist . 38(4), 518536. DOI:
  • Santamaria, F. , & Schlagloth, R. (2016). The effect of Chlamydia on translocatedChlamydia -naïve koalas: a case study. Australian Zoologist , 38(2), 192-202.
  • Frederick, B., Lamey, T., Mikecz, M. & Santamaria, F. (2015). Enabling people to ‘see what they can be’ The community aspiration program (CAP ED). Learning Communities:International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts , 17, October 2015, pp. 54–63.
  • Santamaria, F., Keatley M.R. & Schlagloth, R (2005). Does size matter? Tree use by translocated koalas. The Victorian Naturalist 122: 4–13.
  • Vitale, A., Santamaria, F. & Queyras, A.(1995). Response to a novel object by socially housed common marmosets (Callithrix jaccus): a preliminary study . In: Handbook of Marmosets and Tamarins in Fundamental and Applied Research ed. Scott et al. CBDE Media Services, Salisbury, England.
  • Vitale, A. & Santamaria, F. (1994). Are two monkeys better than one? The behaviour of socially housed marmosets in an unfamiliar environment. Boll. Zoo. Suppl .: 49.
  • Volterra, L. & Santamaria, F. (1993). Nematodes in fresh waters. Particularly regarding to potable waters. Ingegneria Ambientale 22: 3–4.
  • Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F ., Melzer, A. & Houston, W. (in progress). Analysis of historical wildlife carer data from Ballarat - the significance of animal vehicle collisions (AVCs) for a regional koala population. Australian Zoologist .


  • Keatley, M.R., Santamaria, F. & Wilson, K. (2004). RTC5011A Collect and Classify Plants . Flexible Learning Technology Centre, Institute of Land and Food Resources, University of Melbourne: Terang.

Rolf Schlagloth with a koala

Dr Rolf Schlagloth

Dr Rolf Schlagloth has been working on many aspects of the Koala in different capacities, in Victoria and Queensland since 1992. He has worked with universities, industry, government and community to investigate issues associated with koala history, ecology and management.

These include:

  • Flora and fauna surveys, some associated with formal impact assessment (e.g. Golden Plains Shire, Ballarat (Vic); St Lawrence, St Bees Is (Qld)),
  • Koala management plans (KPoM) and associated monitoring,
  • Revegetation strategies and restoration projects, restoration of koala habitat (e.g. Ballarat KPoM, Golden Plains Koala Habitat Atlas, Framlingham Koala Habitat Revegetation Project) and,
  • Koala conservation biology (e.g. research on Koala diet and movement in a roadkill blackspot).

He has provided impartial, expert advice to community, industry, state and federal agencies (e.g. National Koala Strategy, Eton Range Realignment Project – Dep. TMR) and local governments (e. g. Ballarat, Golden Plains, Moorabool, Macedon, Central Goldfields) on a variety of issues associated with koala conservation. Rolf is also very interested in exploring historical aspects of the flagship species koala including the relationships that existed between it and Indigenous Australians.


Published research (and in progress)

  • Schlagloth, R.; Cahir, F. and; Clark, I. (2018). The Historic Importance of the Koala in Aboriginal Society in Victoria (Australia): A Reconsideration of the Archival Record Koala in literature. Anthrozoös. 31(4), 433-441, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2018.1482115
  • Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F.; Golding, B. and Thomson, H. (2018). "Why is it important to use flagship species in community education? The Koala as a case study," Animal Studies Journal. 7(1), 127-148.
  • Wedrowicz, W., Wright, W., Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F., Cahir, F. (2017). Landscape, koalas and people: A historical account of koala populations and their environment in South Gippsland. Australian Zoologist. 38(4), 518536. DOI:
  • Santamaria, F., and Schlagloth, R. (2016). The effect of Chlamydia on translocated Chlamydia-naïve koalas: a case study. Australian Zoologist, 38(2), 192-202.
  • Santamaria, F.; Keateley, M. and Schlagloth, R. (2005). Does size matter? (Tree use by translocated koalas). The Victorian Naturalist. Vol. 122 (1).
  • Cahir, F., Schlagloth, R. and Clark, I. (in progress). An exploration of the Historic Importance of the Koala in Aboriginal Society in New South Wales (Australia): A Reconsideration of the Archival Record Koala in literature. ab-Original.
  • Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F., Melzer, A. & Houston, W. (in progress). Analysis of historical wildlife carer data from Ballarat - the significance of animal vehicle collisions (AVCs) for a regional koala population. Australian Zoologist.
  • Schlagloth, R. and Golding, B. (in progress). Using the Koala as a community education flagship species: An exploration of the purposes and outcomes of a community programme in Ballarat, Australia. Australian Journal of Adult Learning.

Published reports

  • Schlagloth, R. (2018).Managing Central Queensland’s Clarke Connors Range koala population. Predicting future koala-road kill hotspots. Koala Research Project – Eton Range Realignment. Koala Research – CQ, Central Queensland University.
  • Schlagloth, R., Mitchell, D. and Rhodes, J. (2008). Use of Blue Gum Plantations by Koalas. A report to stakeholders in the plantation industry.
  • Schlagloth, R., Thomson, H. and Mitchell, (2006). Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for Ballarat City Council (Part 1- The Plan, part 2 – resource document).
  • Schlagloth, R., Callaghan, J., Thomson, H. and Mitchell, (2006). Draft Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for Ballarat City Council (Part 1- The Plan, part 2 – resource document).
  • Schlagloth, R. and Santamaria, F. (2001). Koala Survey for Ballarat. Report on an extensive survey of ratepayers’ attitude to, and experiences with, koala conservation. City of Ballarat.
  • Prevett, P. T., Pope, R., Smithyman, S., & Schlagloth, R. (1995). Interaction between Koalas and Roads on the Midland Highway and Western Freeway in Victoria. University of Ballarat.

Conference presentation & proceedings

  • Schlagloth, R. (2017) poster presentation. Analysis of historical wildlife carer data from Ballarat - the significance of animal vehicle collisions (AVCs) for a regional koala population. Koala Preservation Society Australia - 2nd National Koala Conference Port Macquarie.
  • Santamaria, F., Schlagloth, R., Denier, J., Andre, J. & Melzer, A. (2016) poster presentation. Importance of regional grazing lands for Koala conservation. RUN Regional Futures Conference CQUniversity, Rockhampton.
  • Schlagloth, R. & Cahir, F. (2016). How an old myth on the relationship between Aborigines and the Koala might have become scientific fact. Presented at the Australian Historical Association Conference: From Boom to Bust, Ballarat, Victoria.
  • Schlagloth, R. (2013). ‘Koalas and roads: a case study in Ballarat, Victoria’ in Flint, N. and Melzer, A. (eds), Conserving Central Queensland’s koalas. Pp. 101-105, Koala Research Centre of Central Queensland, CQUniversity Australia, Rockhampton, Queensland.
  • Schlagloth, R. (2004). Managing koalas on and off Kangaroo Island: towards a proactive, adaptive and multidisciplinary approach. Australasian Wildlife Management Society Symposium Kangaroo Island.
  • Santamaria, F. and Schlagloth, R. (2001). Survival of island translocated koalas and the impact of Chlamydia. Pp. 181-6 in: Veterinary Conservation Biology: Wildlife Health and Management in Australasia. ed. by A. Martin and L. Vogelnest “Proceedings of International Joint Conference”. Taronga Zoo, Sydney.
  • Schlagloth, R. (2001). How does GIS mapping help the Koala and the City of Ballarat? Newtech Conference for Regional People. Land Victoria. Deakin University Geelong.
  • Schlagloth, R. (2001). The Koala Conservation Project in Ballarat. Proceedings of a Conference on the Status of the Koala in 2001. Canberra, ACT. AKF, Brisbane.

Ecology and Management of Central Queensland's Koala Islands

Location: St Bees Island, Brampton Island, Rabbit and Newry islands. The study area is primarily focused on St Bees (20 55' 14.12", 149 26' 32.50") and Brampton (20 48" 34.73", 149 16' 27.64") Islands in the  South Cumberland Islands and  Brampton Islands national parks north-east of Mackay in Central Queensland. Secondary study areas have been established on the nearby Rabbit and Newry Islands (20 51' 24.20", 148 54' 57.80") north of Mackay and in the  Newry Island National Park.

Summary: This long term study commenced in 1998. It is a multidisciplinary research program involving community, universities, state government agencies and international interests. Areas of research interest include structure and dynamics of koala habitat; koala ranging behaviour, habitat utilisation and diet; demography, population dynamics and social interaction; genetics and disease profiles.

Contacts: CQUniversity: Dr Alistair Melzer (; University of Queensland: Dr William Ellis (, Dr Sean Fitzgibbon (

Managing Central Queensland's Clarke Connors Range Koalas

Location: Hills and ranges associated with the Clarke-Connors Ranges from around Collinsville south to Marlborough.

Summary: This is a long-term study. The research program commenced in 2016 with funding from the Qld Department of Transport and Main Roads. This multidisciplinary program involves local landholders, CQUniversity, University of Queensland and local community groups. Areas of research include the ecology of the koala, population and habitat dynamics as well as broad-scale remote sensing of koala habitat landscapes.

Contact: CQUniversity: Dr Rolf Schlagloth (, Dr Bret Heath (, Dr Michael Hewson (; University of Queensland: Dr William Ellis (, Dr Sean FitzGibbon (

Central Queensland's Koala Re-Introduction

Location: Rockhampton and Livingstone Local Government Areas.

Summary: This project explores the potential to recover koala populations in relic koala habitat in eastern Central Queensland. Initially the project will test the feasibility of direct reintroduction of koalas, and develop the methodology for the acclimatisation, release and monitoring of the koalas. The project will also explore the needs of rural landholders to accommodate koalas into property planning.

Contact: CQUniversity: Dr Rolf Schlagloth (, Dr Flavia Santamaria (, Dr Bret Heath (

Central Queensland Council's Koala Recovery Plans

Location: All Local Government Areas within Central Queensland with koala habitat.

Summary: The relic koala habitat within Central Highlands, Rockhampton, Livingstone and Isaac Local Government Areas has been mapped. Also, the lands with potential for recovery as koala habitat have been mapped. This project will develop conceptual plans for the realistic conservation of koalas and koala habitat in these Central Queensland local government areas.

Contact: CQUniversity: Dr Alistair Melzer (, Dr Rolf Schlagloth (, Dr Flavia Santamaria (, Dr Bret Heath (

Koala with a tracking collar on

Understanding the Ecology of Over-Abundant Koala Populations

Location: Great Otway National Park, Victoria, and adjacent private lands. The study was centred on private and public lands around Bimbi Caravan park (38 49' 59.44", 143 30' 42.57").

Summary: This was a study led by Dr Desley Whisson, Deakin University. Here the fate of an overabundant koala population and the associated habitat were followed over time. Areas of research interest include: structure and dynamics of koala habitat; koala ranging behaviour, habitat utilisation; demography, population dynamics and social interactions.

Contacts: Deakin University: Dr Desley Whisson (; CQUniversity: Dr Alistair Melzer (

Koala Mortality Black-Spots on Regional Highways

Location: Midland Highway, between the City of Ballarat (37 33' 35", 143 51' 21”) and the township of Meredith (37 50' 29”, 144 04' 39" on the way to Geelong), Victoria. The study area was focused on two sections, the 48 km stretch of highway between Ballarat and Meredith and a 2 km stretch of the same road just before Meredith. The study site included 5 km on both sides of the highway.

Summary: This study analysed data collected from local wildlife carers on sick and injured koalas to determine the significance to the local koala population of collision with vehicles. It further looked at koala road kills along the highway, attempts to identify koala road kill black-spots and ultimately aimed at developing a model to determine the parameters that are most significant in the formation of these black-spots. A koala population at one black-spot was radio-tracked for 6 months; here koala ranging behaviour, habitat utilisation and diet, as well as koala interactions with the road corridor, were investigated.

Contact: CQUniversity: Dr Rolf Schlagloth (

Major Stakeholders

  • Rockhampton Regional Council
  • Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
  • Threatened Species Unit within the Department of Environment and Science
  • School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences at CQUniversity
  • Central Queensland Koala Volunteers
  • Earthwatch Australia
  • The University of Queensland
  • Deakin University

Contact Details

Koala Research – CQ

CQIRP Building 361 CQUniversity,
Ibis Avenue, North Rockhampton, Q 4701

Caroline Jowsey (General Inquiries)
Phone enquiries: (07) 41507056 (ext. 57056)
Email enquiries:

Dr Alistair Melzer (Research Program Leader)
Phone enquiries: (07) 49232297 (ext. 52297)
Email enquiries:


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