University Of Tasmania

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Conservation implications of limited genetic diversity and population structure in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 04:59 authored by Hendricks, S, Epstein, B, Schonfeld, B, Wiench, C, Rodrigo Hamede RossRodrigo Hamede Ross, Menna JonesMenna Jones, Storfer, A, Hohenlohe, P
Tasmanian devils face a combination of threats to persistence, including devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), an epidemic transmissible cancer. We used RAD sequencing to investigate genome-wide patterns of genetic diversity and geographic population structure. Consistent with previous results, we found very low genetic diversity in the species as a whole, and we detected two broad genetic clusters occupying the northwestern portion of the range, and the central and eastern portions. However, these two groups overlap across a broad geographic area, and differentiation between them is modest (FST = 0.1081). Our results refine the geographic extent of the zone of mixed ancestry and substructure within it, potentially informing management of genetic variation that existed in pre-diseased populations of the species. DFTD has spread across both genetic clusters, but recent evidence points to a genomic response to selection imposed by DFTD. Any allelic variation for resistance to DFTD may be able to spread across the devil population under selection by DFTD, and/or be present as standing variation in both genetic regions.


Publication title

Conservation Genetics










School of Natural Sciences


Kluwer Academic Publ

Place of publication

Van Godewijckstraat 30, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 3311 Gz

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity