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Deficiencies in estimating the extinction date of the thylacine with mixed certainty data


Brook, BW and Sleightholme, SR and Campbell, CR and Buettel, JC, Deficiencies in estimating the extinction date of the thylacine with mixed certainty data, Conservation Biology, 32, (5) pp. 1195-1197. ISSN 0888-8892 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Society for Conservation Biology

DOI: doi:10.1111/cobi.13186


The last captive thylacine died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 (Paddle 2000). Beyond this historical fact, the subsequent fate of the Tasmanian tiger, an iconic marsupial predator, is shrouded in controversy (Rounsevell & Smith 1982). Persecution by graziers (encouraged by government and private bounties), snaring by fur traders, habitat modification, and perhaps disease caused a population decline, such that thylacines were regarded as rare by 1910. The final confirmed wild trapping occurred in the early 1930s (Guiler 1985). However, hundreds of unverified observations have been reported in Tasmania over subsequent decades. Carlson et al. (2018) used physical evidence and uncertain sightings to analyze the record of thylacine encounters in Tasmania from 1900 to 2015. They concluded that extinction was likely by 1940 and that there was virtually no chance of persistence to the present day (1 in 112 trillion against). We argue that this conclusion is unjustifiably confident, given the circumstances of the speciesí decline.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:extinction, sighting data, Tasmanian tiger
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
UTAS Author:Buettel, JC (Dr Jessie Buettel)
ID Code:144150
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FL160100101)
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2021-04-26
Last Modified:2021-05-04

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