Mobile phone tech to unravel why Koalas bellow

October 2nd, 2008 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 2 (IANS) Come spring and the open eucalyptus forests and woodlands of Australia come alive with the distinct bellows of Koalas and now researchers are using mobile phone technology to unravel the mystery behind their deep grunts.Spring is the peak breeding season when male Koalas are said to make loud grunts and squeals to attract a mate.

“We are studying whether males are talking to other males, or to females, and how vocalisations might stimulate breeding behaviour in female koalas,” University of Queensland koala researcher Dr Bill Ellis told Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Female Koalas become sexually mature at two years of age and males mature at three to four years.

Researchers are using mobile phone technology to relay the sounds of Koalas on St Bees Island, off the coast of Mackay in central Queensland, to a Brisbane laboratory.

The information is being fed into an acoustic database and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers are developing software to recognise the cuddly marsupial’s calls automatically, Ellis told AAP.

Microphones connected to the phones monitor the island’s acoustic environment for two minutes every half hour.

“The sensors are remote controlled, so that if we want to change the recording schedule in response to data on when the calls are most prevalent, for example, we can,” Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor Richard Mason told AAP.

While the Koalas are generally solitary mammals, they live in communities. They feed entirely on a diet of eucalyptus leaves and are found from South Australia to Queensland.

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