A review of parasites in the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)

Liana F. Wait*, Sarah Peck, Samantha Fox, Michelle L. Power

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Threatened by devil facial tumour disease, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), a carnivorous marsupial confined to Tasmania, Australia, is the subject of conservation management under the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. Conservation actions such as captive breeding and translocation may impact upon parasite ecology, presenting risk of increased disease through stress and impaired immunity, and by exposing hosts to parasites to which they are immunologically naïve. Given the importance of parasites to ecosystem function, it has been argued from a biodiversity perspective that parasites should be conserved in their own right. In this review we describe current knowledge, and limitations in our knowledge, of Tasmanian devil parasites. We then discuss the potential for changes in host–parasite interactions as a result of host-population decline and conservation management, both generally and with examples from the Tasmanian devil. The review closes with a recommendation for a systematic evaluation of parasites in captive and wild devils to aid conservation of this host–parasite system in its entirety.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)509-526
    Number of pages18
    JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
    Volume26
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • Tasmanian devil
    • dasyuridae
    • parasite ecology
    • conservation management
    • biodiversity

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