Evaluation of selective culling of infected individuals to control Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease

Lachish, Shelly, McCallum, Hamish, Mann, Dyee, Pukk, Chrissy E. and Jones, Menna E. (2010) Evaluation of selective culling of infected individuals to control Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease. Conservation Biology, 24 3: 841-851. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01429.x

Author Lachish, Shelly
McCallum, Hamish
Mann, Dyee
Pukk, Chrissy E.
Jones, Menna E.
Title Evaluation of selective culling of infected individuals to control Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease
Journal name Conservation Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0888-8892
Publication date 2010-06
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01429.x
Volume 24
Issue 3
Start page 841
End page 851
Total pages 11
Editor Gary K. Meffe
Ellen Main
Place of publication Malden, Mass, U.S.A.
Publisher Blackwell
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subject C1
960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified
060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
Sustainable strategies to manage infectious diseases in threatened wildlife are still lacking despite considerable concern over the global increase in emerging infectious diseases of wildlife and their potential to drive populations to extinction. Selective culling of infected individuals will often be the most feasible option to control infectious disease in a threatened wildlife host, but has seldom been implemented or evaluated as a management tool for the conservation of threatened species. The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is threatened with extinction by an infectious cancer, devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). We assess the success of an adaptive management trial involving selective culling of infected Tasmanian devils to control DFTD. Demographic and epidemiological parameters indicative of disease progression and impact were compared between the management site and a comparable unmanaged control site. Selective culling of infected individuals neither slowed rate of disease progression nor reduced population-level impacts of this debilitating disease. Culling mortality simply compensated for disease mortality in this system. Failure of selective culling to impede DFTD progress and reduce its impacts in the managed population was attributed to DFTD's frequency-dependent nature, its long latent period and high degree of infectivity, and the presence of a cryptic hidden disease reservoir or continual immigration of diseased individuals. We suggest that increasing the current removal rate and focusing removal efforts prior to the breeding season are options worth pursuing for future management of DFTD in this population. On the basis of our experience, we suggest that disease-management programs for threatened wildlife populations be developed on the principles of adaptive management and utilize a wide variety of strategies with regular reviews and adaptation of strategies undertaken as new information is obtained.
© 2010 Society for Conservation Biology.
Keyword Disease suppression
Infectious disease management
Selective culling
Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease
Threatened species
Chronic wasting disease
Adaptive management
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 34 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 33 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 06 Jun 2010, 00:06:46 EST