Date of this Version
Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 2016
Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) is a highly transmissible cancerous disease that has contributed to a rapid decline in Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) populations since the first documented case in 1996 (12, 14). Tasmanian devils are social animals and the disease, thought to be spread through facial bites, is highly contagious (5, 10, 11). The disease results in large facial tumors near the mouth. Devils die within three months of diagnosis. Devils’ now shortened average lifespans and decreasing populations are not only problematic for the devils themselves, but also for the Tasmanian ecosystem as a whole (6). Questions about DFTD’s epidemiology, namely its latency and transmission, remain and, as time runs out for the devils, researchers are searching for a way to slow the species’ decline and conserve the existing populations. This thesis explores the various proposals for disease eradication, inoculation, culling, and assurance colonies through a literature review. With this knowledge, the thesis proposes a plan for combating DFTD and conserving Tasmanian devil populations.