02 May 2022 5 min read
Professor Corey Bradshaw is the Matthew Flinders Professor of Global Ecology at Flinders University. Koala Life spoke to Professor Bradshaw about his research on koalas being undertaken in partnership with Koala Life. This research is supported by an ARC Linkage Grant.
Professor Bradshaw specialises in mathematical modelling of environmental systems, and his project involves demographic and genetic modelling of South Australian koala populations. The project aims to understand how bringing in outbred individuals might spread beneficial genetic information throughout the population. His approach will use mathematics to piece together an understanding of the complex factors influencing long term koala resilience, including in South Australia where koalas suffer from the effects of inbreeding.
“What we need to do to consider bringing that genetic diversity back up is understand how we could bring in non-inbred individuals and how that might spread that genetic information through the population and make them healthier, because it's never good to have low genetic diversity,” Professor Bradshaw says.
Professor Bradshaw’s work incorporates different sources of information and different layers of complexity. “Not one branch of science can save a species from extinction, you need to sort of pull out all your available tools from the toolbox,” Professor Bradshaw notes. In this case, this includes people in the field, people in the lab, geneticists, mathematicians, physiologists, and pathologists.
Professor Bradshaw hopes that this research will provide a rigorous empirical approach to genetic rescue that can be applied not only to koalas, but other species across Australia.
You can watch the full interview below, or on the Koala Life YouTube channel here.