Publication date: Aug 11, 2019
DENVER/August 12, 2019 – Wild female Tasmanian devils have mating habits that could pose a challenge for conservationists trying to maintain genetic diversity in species recovery programs, found Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Sydney. The research team discovered that Tasmanian devil females can be polyandrous, or have multiple mating partners, and their male partners can be younger than once thought. Devil facial tumor disease 1 (DFT1) and the recently discovered devil facial tumor 2 (DFT2) have decimated wild Tasmanian devil populations. Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, an initiative by the Tasmanian and Australian governments, was established to maintain an enduring, ecologically functional population of Tasmanian devils in the wild with a captive, insurance population of animals free from DFT1 and DFT2. “This newly discovered potential adaptation is an important finding, in addition to efforts to find a cure for both diseases, as we seek to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, Morris Animal Foundation Chief Scientific Officer. The Foundation is one of only a few organizations funding wildlife health research, particularly for endangered and at-risk wildlife species, including Tasmanian devils.