Current Tasmanian devil research at Sydney university
The Tasmanian devil Insurance Population was established in 2006 in response to population declines as a result of Devil Facial Tumour Disease, and has now grown to over 700 devils housed in 37 zoo-based intensive-management facilities, free-range enclosures, an offshore island and a fenced peninsula site. The successful growth of the captive population means devils bred in captivity are now being released back into the wild. Maintaining a sustainable captive population of devils suitable for reintroduction presents many challenges, requiring diverse management strategies. Our research spans the health, ecology, genetic and reproductive management of the captive population.
Elspeth, Holly, Kate and Rowena are PhD students at the University of Sydney. Elspeth uses genetic techniques to study the population dynamics of Maria Island for current and future management. Holly’s research focuses on developing selective contraceptive methods for control of breeding in intensive and free-range enclosures. Kate applies statistical methods to investigate breeding success and adaptation to captivity in captive populations. Rowena studies the gut microbiome of captive and wild devils to improve our understanding of devil health and re-introductions using metagenomics.