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Disease and the devil: density-dependent epidemiological processes explain historical population fluctuations in the Tasmanian devil

Bradshaw, Corey J. A. and Brook, Barry William (2005). Disease and the devil: density-dependent epidemiological processes explain historical population fluctuations in the Tasmanian devil. Ecography: pattern and diversity in ecology,28(2):181-190.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID A00003xPUB42
Title Disease and the devil: density-dependent epidemiological processes explain historical population fluctuations in the Tasmanian devil
Author Bradshaw, Corey J. A.
Brook, Barry William
Journal Name Ecography: pattern and diversity in ecology
Publication Date 2005
Volume Number 28
Issue Number 2
ISSN 1600-0587   (check CDU catalogue  open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-17044390821
Start Page 181
End Page 190
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication Copenhagen
Publisher Munksgaard International Publishers
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Australia's last mega-carnivore marsupial, the Tasmanian devil Sarcophilus harrisii, Dasyuridae is endemic to the island state of Tasmania. The recent appearance and rapid spread of a debilitating and usually lethal, cancer-like disease has raised concerns regarding the species' future. We used a demographic matrix modelling approach to evaluate the potential long-term implications of epidemics on this population. Both adult survival and temporally autocorrelated re-occurrence of disease were expressed as a function of female abundance. Large fluctuations in abundance resulted when disease outbreaks were conditioned to be density-dependent; however, this resulted in a low probability of quasi-extinction due to the dissipation of disease transmission at low densities. Epidemic stochasticity alone in an otherwise deterministic model resulted in major population cycles occurring every 77 - 146 yr, consistent with historical reports. Although epidemics in this species may not result in extinction directly, the contemporary presence of additional mortality sources during periods of low abundance may increase extinction risk.
Keywords bovine tuberculosis
trichinella-pseudospiralis
spatial dynamics
model
extinction
infection
viability
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0906-7590.2005.04088.x   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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