University Of Tasmania

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Influence of genetic provenance and birth origin on productivity of the Tasmanian devil insurance population

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 16:59 authored by Hogg, CJ, Ivy, JA, Srb, C, Hockley, J, Lees, C, Hibbard, C, Menna JonesMenna Jones
An insurance population for the critically endangered Tasmanian devil was established in 2006. Due to successful captive breeding, the population has reached its carrying capacity of 600 devils and retains 99.95% of founding gene diversity. Although reproduction has been quite successful, possible relatedness among founding individuals, influences of genetic provenance and pairing success on female productivity were evaluated to further refine insurance population management. Ten polymorphic microsatellite markers were used to assess the founders. Although the data were ultimately insufficient for determining specific founder relationships, a STRUCTURE analysis determined founders to be of eastern or western provenance. Western provenance animals had an observed heterozygosity of 0.38; while eastern provenance was 0.41. Allelic frequencies between the two provenances were similar. Although differences in pairing success of eastern and western provenance animals were noted, there was no difference in overall productivity (number of joeys/female). Cross-provenance pairings were not as successful as W-W but had similar productivity, and produced viable offspring. Birth origin (wild-born vs. zoo-born) had no influence on pairing success but wild-born females produce significantly more joeys/female. For zoo-born females, the number of joeys produced per female had a downward trend between respective generations in captivity. Current and future population managers should be aware of potential reductions in productivity across captive generations and adjust breeding recommendations accordingly. The ability to recruit founders from diseased females, along with a better understanding of the influence of genetic provenance and birth origin on productivity, has led to changes in acquisition of future founders for this insurance population.



Publication title

Conservation Genetics










School of Natural Sciences


Springer Netherlands

Place of publication


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Copyright 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences