Monday, October 15, 2012

The Devil Made me do it

 DFTD and the Tasmanian Devil

 Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is an infectious cancer that has been on the rise and greatly effecting populations of the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus Harrisii), only found on the island of Tasmania and is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red list.

This disease is moving at a very fast rate and is estimated that by 2012, all populations of Tasmanian devils will be infected and at risk. McCullum, et. al, (2007), estimate that without successful intervention, all wild Tasmanian Devil populations will be extinct in 25 years. It is also estimated that affected populations could die out as soon as 15 years. The wild devil populations have seen a 60% decline in population (Mcleod, 2012).

DFTD is a fatal condition for the Tasmanian Devil and is very unusual, as it spreads like an infectious disease between animals (Devils) through biting. The general fitness levels of the Devil are poor due to lack of genetic diversity (DPIW, 2012). Death occurs from starvation around 6 months after the condition develops. Currently there is no cure or successful treatment for the disease.

To learn more about this disease, here is a suggested reading list and web resources to get your started:: Students can find the articles in searchwise from the library home page or electronic journal list.

Reading list:
Rodrigo K. Hamede, Hamish McCallum, Menna Jones. Biting injuries and transmission of Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2012

Deakin JE, Bender HS, Pearse A-M, Rens W, O'Brien PCM, et al. (2012) Genomic Restructuring in the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour: Chromosome Painting and Gene Mapping Provide Clues to Evolution of a Transmissible Tumour. PLoS Genet 8(2): e1002483. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002483

Transmission dynamics of Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease may lead to disease-induced extinction
Cull cannot save the Tasmanian Devil. 



Macleod, E., 2012. 
The main content and general idea for this post was taken from a class lecture in Wildlife and Animal Health at the University of Edinburgh. Unpublished. [Thanks Ewan for an awesome class].

McCallum H., Tompkins D. M., Jones M., Lachish S., Marvanek S., Lazenby B., Hocking G., Weirsma J., Hawkins C. (2007) Distributon and impacts of Tasmanian devil facialtumour disease, EcoHealth 4, 318-325.

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