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Extensive population decline in the Tasmanian devil predates European settlement and devil facial tumour disease


Bruniche-Olsen, A and Jones, ME and Austin, JJ and Burridge, CP and Holland, BR, Extensive population decline in the Tasmanian devil predates European settlement and devil facial tumour disease, Biology Letters, 10, (11) Article 20140619. ISSN 1744-9561 (2014) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2014 The Author(s)

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DOI: doi:10.1098/rsbl.2014.0619


The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) was widespread in Australia during the Late Pleistocene but is now endemic to the island of Tasmania. Low genetic diversity combined with the spread of devil facial tumour disease have raised concerns for the species’ long-term survival. Here, we investigate the origin of low genetic diversity by inferring the species' demographic history using temporal sampling with summary statistics, full-likelihood and approximate Bayesian computation methods. Our results show extensive population declines across Tasmania correlating with environmental changes around the last glacial maximum and following unstable climate related to increased ‘El Niño–Southern Oscillation’ activity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Tasmanian devil, demographic history, Bayesian likelihood, approximate Bayesian computation, microsatellite
Research Division:Mathematical Sciences
Research Group:Applied Mathematics
Research Field:Biological Mathematics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
UTAS Author:Bruniche-Olsen, A (Ms Anna Bruniche-Olsen)
UTAS Author:Jones, ME (Associate Professor Menna Jones)
UTAS Author:Burridge, CP (Associate Professor Christopher Burridge)
UTAS Author:Holland, BR (Associate Professor Barbara Holland)
ID Code:97234
Year Published:2014
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT100100031)
Web of Science® Times Cited:25
Deposited By:Mathematics and Physics
Deposited On:2014-12-08
Last Modified:2017-10-30

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