The koala is a threatened species that is under pressure primarily due to urban growth and disease (chlamydia). Non-invasive hormone analysis techniques will be used to develop faecal biomarkers associated with health and immune function in the koala. Faecal samples collected during artificial insemination and chlamydia vaccine trials and various hospital cases will be used to validation sample processing and analysis techniques for faecal glucocorticoid hormones (eg. cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfated version (DHEAS)), and faecal IgA.

Knowledge gained from this study will be used to develop an index of biomarkers which can be used to evaluate the health of wild koala populations and to better understand individual variation in hospital treatment success in the koala.

Location: Gatton campus and possibly Dreamworld

Expected outcomes: The student will gain basic laboratory skills, be trained in non-invasive hormone analysis techniques and data evaluation and will gain knowledge of marsupial and koala reproduction. The student may also have an opportunity to generate a publication from their research.

Supervisor: Dr Tamara Keeley

Before you apply: Interest in wildlife and basic laboratory skills are desirable. Laboratory work will occur at Gatton with the option to spend some time on-site at Dreamworld.

Project members

Dr Tamara Keeley

UQ Postdoctoral ResearchFellow
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences