Mobile phones record koalas' conversations
Koalas do talk to each other, but scientists don't know how, or how often. But a group of scientists in Australia are using mobile phones to understand what the bears could be saying to each other, and how they could use this to help conserve the threatened species as they are threatened by habitat destruction.
The koalas on St Bees Island off northeast Australia, were tagged with tracking devices, and then the scientists placed mobile phones in the trees to turn on every 30 mins and record two minutes of the bears bellowing to each other.
The mobiles, charged by solar power and car batteries, record the koala bellows, then download the recordings to a computer at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.
"Koala bellows can go from really quite short, sharp, and quite agitated sounding bellows to long, slow, deep bellows that can last for over a minute," said researcher Bill Ellis.
"Interestingly most of the bellowing seems to occur around midnight, not around dawn or dusk when we thought it might've occurred," he said on Tuesday.
Ellis said he was studying whether male koalas communicate by bellowing to each other to mark out territory and whether bellowing was used to attract females during breeding season.
"Over the breeding season males are quiet active at the start but their movements die down and females have a spike in movement somewhere in the breeding season," Ellis said.
"After a male and female encounter, and we can't see what they are doing, the female lets out a high-pitched scream and immediately after the male emits a loud bellow," he said.
This study could help manage the populations by lettting officials know when the best time is to introduce a new animal to the population, and when the best time could be to allow changes to koala habitats.
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