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Ancient DNA tracks the mainland extinction and island survival of the Tasmanian devil

Bruniche-Olsen, A, Jones, ME ORCID: 0000-0001-7558-9022, Burridge, CP ORCID: 0000-0002-8185-6091, Murchison, EP, Holland, BR ORCID: 0000-0002-4628-7938 and Austin, JJ 2018 , 'Ancient DNA tracks the mainland extinction and island survival of the Tasmanian devil' , Journal of Biogeography, vol. 45, no. 5 , pp. 963-976 , doi: 10.1111/jbi.13214.

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Abstract

Aim: The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), currently restricted to the island of Tasmania, was found over most of the Australian mainland prior to its extinction ~3,000 years ago. Recent debate has focused on the roles of humans, climatechange and dingoes as drivers of the mainland extinction. Determining past geneticdiversity and opulation dynamics of both populations is a fundamental componentto understand why the species went extinct on mainland Australia, but survived inTasmania. Here, we investigate the phylogeography and demographic history of theTasmanian devil across southern Australia over the last ~30k years.Location:Australia.Taxon: Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).Methods: We used complete and partial mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes from 202 devils representing the extinct mainland (n = 17) and the extant Tasmanian (n = 185) populations to investigate the population dynamics of southern mainlandand Tasmanian devils. The samples were sub-fossil bones, historical museum speci-mens and modern tissue samples, dating from the present to 17k years before present.Using summary statistics, frequentist inference and Bayesian phylogenetic analysis weexplored whether levels of genetic diversity were similar, and if the southern mainlandexperienced a gradual rather than an abrupt decline prior to its extinction.Results: MtDNA genomes from mainland devils suggest that this population waslarger and had more genetic diversity than the Tasmanian population. Directly datedsamples indicates that the southern mainland population expanded after the last glacial maximum and remained stable until its extinction. The Tasmanian populationhas much lower diversity and descends from a single mtDNA lineage ~3,000 yearsago. The recent origin for all Tasmanian mtDNA diversity is concordant with a previ-ously documented late-Holocene population bottleneck and is broadly contempora-neous with the extinction of the southern mainland population.Main conclusions: This pattern shows striking similarity to the demographic historyof thylacines, suggesting that a shared factor initiated population declines in bothspecies on the southern mainland and in Tasmania. El Ni~no Southern Oscillation(ENSO)-related climate change is the only factor common to both mainland Australiaand Tasmania. Additional, direct or indirect, pressures from humans and/or dingoeson the mainland may have ultimately resulted in their extinction.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Bruniche-Olsen, A and Jones, ME and Burridge, CP and Murchison, EP and Holland, BR and Austin, JJ
Keywords: Tasmanian devil, ancient DNA, population genetics
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Biogeography
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN: 0305-0270
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/jbi.13214
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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