Daylight Saving Could Stabilize Dwindling Population Of Koalas

Posted: Nov 23 2016, 1:42am CST | by , Updated: Nov 23 2016, 2:03am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Daylight Saving could Stabilize Dwindling Population of Koalas
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Study says adopting daylight saving could save koalas and help conservation

Koalas were once widely distributed across Australia, from northern Queensland to the west of Adelaide in South Australia. But now their populations have declined considerably in many parts of the country, including Brisbane, Queensland. 

The Brisbane region has one of the most at-risk populations of koalas where almost 80 percent of cuddly marsupials have disappeared in the past 20 years. But researchers believe a simple tip can help restore the dwindling population of koalas.

Adopting daylight saving time could save a large number of koalas who usually die after being hit by cars on roadways. Turning clocks forward means daylight is extended and that there are fewer chances of collisions due to darkness.

Researchers estimate that daylight saving time would decrease car collisions with koalas by eight percent on weekdays and 11 percent on weekends.

“Collisions with wildlife are most likely to occur during twilight or darkness. Daylight saving time could reduce collisions with nocturnal wildlife (animals that are active at night) because it would still be light when commuters drive home.” said Professor Robbie Wilson from University of Queensland.

“This is achieved by simply shifting the timing of traffic relative to darkness.”

Cars alongside dogs and disease are major causes for the deaths of hundreds of koala bears every year. Introducing daylight saving could reduce the number of cars on the road during and after twilight when the animal begins to move around and decrease their chances of being hit by cars.

For the study, researchers examined the flow data from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to determine the peak traffic hours. Traffic was highest between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., and again between 3 p.m. and about 6 p.m. during weekdays. On weekends, roads had most vehicles between 11 a.m. and noon. 

Researches also tracked the movements of koalas and determined their peak activity near roads. Just as with cars, they found that koalas also tend to move near roads late afternoon/early evening period. And the results were consistent with the timings of wildlife-vehicle collisions.

“Anything that can reduce the number of cars on the road when nocturnal animals begin moving around is a good thing, and we wondered if daylight saving might be a factor.” Co-author Dr Bill Ellis said.

 “If we can reduce the number of animals hit on the roads by making a simple change like this, then conservation and road safety should become part of the debate on daylight saving.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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