Koala Life Research Series: Imogen Sach

11 Oct. 2021 5 min read

Imogen Sach is an Honours student at Flinders University, with a background in animal behaviour. Her research project, supported by Koala Life, looks at the physiological and behavioral responses of koalas to drone surveying. Imogen’s project has involved developing a new methodology to test the response of koalas to the drones. The heart rate of the koala is measured using a fitbit at a fine temporal scale, to indicate how much stress the koala is experiencing as the drone comes by.

Investigating behavioural responses to drones is of high importance as drones are becoming an increasingly useful conservation tool. Their uses can include facial recognition, population surveying, and other general conservation uses. With their increased use, it is important to look into the impact this is actually having on koalas. “We just want to ensure that we understand the implications of short-term and long-term responses of koalas to drones,” Imogen says. “This is a very important aspect of conservation management not only with just koalas but with species across Australia, endangered and threatened species.”

While drones have the potential to be a very useful conservation tool it is vital the effects on koalas and other species are well understood. Imogen hopes her results will influence management policies and procedures around drones in conservation science.

You can watch the full video below or on the Koala Life Youtube Channel here.