Signs shown of genetic resistance to DFTD

Research by an international team of scientists, published at the end of August in the journal Nature Communications, shows two regions in the genomes of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) appear to be evolving in response to the fatal facial tumour disease that has ravaged populations in the wild for almost 20 years.

Evolutionary geneticist Andrew Storfer from Washington State University, and geneticist Paul Hohenlohe from the University of Idaho, compared tissue samples collected from Tasmanian devils by Menna Jones over a 17-year period. An Associate Professor and wildlife ecologist at the University of Tasmania, Jones is credited with first identifying DFTD during the mid-1990s, and she subsequently established long-term field sites to study the animals. In less than 20 years populations of devils in the wild have declined by more than 80 per cent.

Jones, who is a co-author of the paper, said two small genomic regions were identified in the recently collected DNA samples from three sites: Narawntapu in Tasmania’s north-east, West Pencil Pine in western Tasmania’s Cradle Valley, and Freycinet, on the east coast. They all exhibited significant changes in response to the strong selection imposed by the disease. Continue reading Signs shown of genetic resistance to DFTD

It’s a panda party for Fu Ni

Adelaide Zoo has thrown a birthday party for the ninth birthday party of Fu Ni the giant panda.

The event was the female panda’s fifth birthday in Australia since arriving at Adelaide Zoo in 2009, and she was given a number of stimulating, panda-friendly treats.

Fu Ni and her counterpart male, Wang Wang, are part of an international . . . → Read More: It’s a panda party for Fu Ni

Government removed whistleblower following export industry concerns

Simon Crean_1392The Federal Government removed a whistleblower vet from her duties following the presentation of evidence of cruelty on Australian live export ships.
The ABC’s 7.30 obtained evidence which they claim demonstrates that Lynn Simpson was dumped by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources after she made a highly critical report in 2012.
Simpson’s report included pictures of animals suffocating in overcrowded conditions, drowning in faeces and being forced to stand on hard surfaces for weeks on end.
The report was apparently intended to be an internal document, but it was accidentally published on the department’s website.
Simpson was relieved of her duties within weeks of publication, and claims her evidence was soon sanitised.
The then first assistant secretary of the department’s Animal Division, Karen Schneider, contacted Simpson in a letter obtained by the ABC and conceded she was removed from her role because of industry concerns.
“This is because the industry with which we engage has expressed the view they cannot work with you,” Schneider wrote. Continue reading Government removed whistleblower following export industry concerns

NSW Government bans greyhound racing

Picture: Dieppe DesignNew South Wales became the first Australian state committing to shut down greyhound racing after a Special Commission found overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty.
The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry of New South Wales, led by the Honourable Michael McHugh AC QC, found that the rate of “wastage” of uncompetitive dogs was 50-70 per cent (between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs over a 12 year period). The Inquiry found evidence that 10 to 20 per cent of trainers engaged in the practice of live baiting.
Despite previous efforts to clean up the industry, deaths and injuries went unreported to Greyhound Racing New South Wales. The report found that “many trainers appear to prefer cheap and sometimes painful methods of treating greyhound injuries instead of using the services of qualified veterinary surgeons.”
On the subject of live baiting, the reported concluded that “there is a very real risk that, once the harsh spotlight of this Commission is removed from the industry, the practice of live baiting will thrive once more.” Continue reading NSW Government bans greyhound racing

Fish species failing to adapt to warming oceans

Biotest study species European perchA research project associated with Sweden’s University of Gothenberg has found the impact from steadily rising ocean temperatures could prove fatal for some fish species. As well as the loss of biodiversity in the world’s oceans, the impact from warming seas on both marine mammals, and human populations that rely heavily on fish as a food source, would also be dramatic.
University of Tasmania senior research fellow Timothy Clark was a member of the Swedish team that conducted tests during 2012 and 2013 on European perch (Perca fluviatilis) from the ‘Biotest’ lake enclosure in the Baltic Sea. For over 30 years, these fish have been subjected to the lake’s ‘elevated’ water temperatures that are heated by the nearby Forsmark nuclear power plant.
The tests were also conducted on ‘reference’ fish populations from outside the enclosure, and results showed that while the fish are able to adapt their resting physiological functions to slowly rising temperatures, their maximum physiological functions are far less flexible.
“The fish can increase their lethal temperature by a certain amount, but they can’t keep up with the current rate of global water temperature increases,” Clark said. Continue reading Fish species failing to adapt to warming oceans