Koalas are not overly stressed by drones despite an increase in deployment of the new technology to aid conservation efforts.
Flinders University researchers have studied the heart rates and responses of captive koalas when the small aerial vehicles are near their trees.
They used Fitbit monitors and recorded other behaviour with cameras as drones were flown about 15 metres above the animals' heads in a wildlife park enclosure.
"Koalas responded to the drone flight with a short-term increase in vigilance but no change in heart rate or breathing rate, indicating that drones may not have a long-term detrimental effect on fitness or energy demands," animal behaviour expert Diane Colombelli-Negre said.
She said the research was part of the ongoing development of tools to compile data over large areas.
Such technology was emerging as important to better understand the factors influencing the survival of a species.
Her team has also been involved in night-time videoing of the fragile little penguin populations on South Australia's Granite Island.
By combining data from regular night surveys with continuous video and audio monitoring of penguin vocalisations, the researchers assessed the ongoing impacts of human activities on the colony, where tourists regularly go looking for rookeries.
"These results add to a growing body of literature suggesting that human activities on land and their consequent disturbances, may affect the numbers and behaviours of wildlife and that appropriate measures need to be developed to limit such impacts particularly when populations are declining or in peril," Dr Colombelli-Negre said.