MEET Baxter, the border collie who has a special new job: helping to save vulnerable species around the Bruce Hwy.
The dog with a nose for sniffing out koala scat (poo) has been employed on a research team to help the state and federal governments better understand koala behaviour.
The research team, based at the University of the Sunshine Coast, will help shape the future design of environmental land offsets to counter-balance the impacts of infrastructure projects on koala populations.
The first task will be determining the population density, disease presence and load, and genetic diversity of koalas around the Bruce Hwy Section C upgrades between Cooroy and Curra.
Queensland Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the findings would help design underpasses and barriers to help prevent koalas dying by vehicle strikes.
"Transport and Main Roads has several research projects underway or recently completed in South East Queensland that focus on vulnerable species such as the koala," he said.
Geneticist and head of the Detection Dogs for Conservation team at USC, Dr Celine Frere, said dogs find koala scats more easily than humans and a lot of interesting information could be derived from them.
"In particular, we can determine the genetic fingerprint of koalas," she said.
"This opens many doors in our understanding of koalas such as their health, the connectivity or fragmentation of the population and even their social structure."
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