Daylight saving time gets a bad rap in some areas of Australia, particularly in Queensland where it has been previously instituted and subsequently dropped.
However, a new University of Queensland-led study indicates that there may be benefits for certain marsupial residents – koalas.
A combination of cars, dogs and disease has taken its toll on koala numbers in the Brisbane region, which have declined by around 80 percent over the past 20 years.
UQ School of Biological Sciences researcher, Associate Professor Robbie Wilson and his team wanted to specifically look at the incidence of roadkill and trauma on koalas, spending time tracking koala movements and comparing them with traffic patterns along roads known for their high death tolls.
Wilson said the study finds introducing daylight saving time would decrease car collisions with koalas by eight percent on weekdays and 11 percent on weekends, by ensuring more people would be driving home before dark.
“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,” Wilson said.
“Other nocturnal animals, such as kangaroos and wallabies, could also benefit from a switch to daylight saving, which could in turn improve the safety of commuters.”
The study was developed by Wilson, Dr Sean Fitzgibbon and Dr Bill Ellis (the latter two from UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and the Sustainable Minerals Institute, respectively) to find better ways of protecting koalas.
“Cars are responsible for hundreds of koala deaths each year,” Ellis said.
“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.”