Conservation implications of limited genetic diversity and population structure in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii)
Hendricks, S and Epstein, B and Schonfeld, B and Wiench, C and Hamede, R and Jones, M and Storfer, A and Hohenlohe, P, Conservation implications of limited genetic diversity and population structure in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii), Conservation Genetics, 18, (4) pp. 977-982. ISSN 1566-0621 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Tasmanian devils face a combination of threats to persistence, including devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), an epidemic transmissible cancer. We used RAD sequencing to investigate genome-wide patterns of genetic diversity and geographic population structure. Consistent with previous results, we found very low genetic diversity in the species as a whole, and we detected two broad genetic clusters occupying the northwestern portion of the range, and the central and eastern portions. However, these two groups overlap across a broad geographic area, and differentiation between them is modest (FST = 0.1081). Our results refine the geographic extent of the zone of mixed ancestry and substructure within it, potentially informing management of genetic variation that existed in pre-diseased populations of the species. DFTD has spread across both genetic clusters, but recent evidence points to a genomic response to selection imposed by DFTD. Any allelic variation for resistance to DFTD may be able to spread across the devil population under selection by DFTD, and/or be present as standing variation in both genetic regions.
conservation genomics, devil facial tumor disease, gene flow, population bottlenecks, RAD sequencing, transmissible cancer