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Changes in spatial organization following an acute epizootic: Tasmanian devils and their transmissible cancer


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Comte, S, Carver, S ORCID: 0000-0002-3579-7588, Hamede, R ORCID: 0000-0003-1526-225X and Jones, Menna ORCID: 0000-0001-7558-9022 2020 , 'Changes in spatial organization following an acute epizootic: Tasmanian devils and their transmissible cancer' , Global Ecology and Conservation, vol. 22 , doi: 10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e00993.

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Epidemiological studies commonly monitor host population density but rarely account forhow transmission dynamics might be influenced by changes in spatial and social organizationthat arise from high mortality altering population demography. Devil facial tumourdisease (DFTD), a novel transmissible cancer, caused almost 100% mortality of its singlehost, the Tasmanian devil, and a >90% local population decline since its emergence 20years ago.We compare size and overlap in home ranges in a devil population before and 15years after disease outbreak. We used location data collected with VHF tracking collars in2001 and GPS collars in the same area in 2015 and 2016. Density of adult devils, calculatedfrom live trapping data in the same years, show a strong decrease following the diseaseoutbreak. The decline in density was accompanied by a reduction in female home rangesize, a trend not observed for males. Both spatially explicit population modelling andanimal tracking showed a decrease in female home range overlap following the DFTDoutbreak. These changes in spatial organisation of the host population have the potentialto alter the local transmission dynamic of the tumours. Our results are consistent with thegeneral theory of sex-biased spatial organization mediated by resource availability andhighlight the importance of incorporating spatial ecology into epidemiological studies.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Comte, S and Carver, S and Hamede, R and Jones, Menna
Keywords: Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease, DFTD, spatial organisation, home range, movement, epidemiology, GPS/VHF tracking, infectious disease, spatial ecology, transmissible cancer
Journal or Publication Title: Global Ecology and Conservation
Publisher: Elsevier BV
ISSN: 2351-9894
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e00993
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

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