Restoring faith in conservation action: maintaining wild genetic diversity through the Tasmanian devil insurance program

Elspeth McLennan, Katherine Farquharson, Yuanyuan Cheng, Lauren Alexander, Samantha Fox, Andrew Lee, Katherine Belov & Carolyn Hogg
Conservation breeding programs aim to maintain 90% wild genetic diversity, but rarely assess functional diversity. Here, we compare both genome-wide and functional diversity (in over 500 genes) of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) within the insurance metapopulation and across the species’ range (64,519 km2). Populations have declined by 80% since 1996 due to a contagious cancer, devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). However, predicted local extinctions have not occurred. Recent suggestions of selection for “resistance” alleles in...
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