Could Tassie devils help control feral cats on the mainland? Fossils say yes

phys.org | 2/26/2019 | Staff
tanikaki (Posted by) Level 3
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The Tasmanian devil – despite its name – once roamed the mainland of Australia. Returning the devil to the mainland may not only help its threatened status but could help control invasive predators such as feral cats and foxes.

The idea of returning devils to the mainland has been raised before.

Idea - View - Fossil - Record - Mainland

But now we've explored the idea from a palaeontological view. We looked at the fossil record of mainland devils, in a paper published online and in print soon in the journal Biological Conservation.

The fossil record helps us better understand how the devils co-existed on mainland Australia with other wildlife. It also helps us see how these iconic animals may possibly interact with small and medium-sized animals if reintroduced to the mainland in the future.

Ecologists - Predators - Environments - Extinction - Ecosystems

Ecologists have reintroduced several apex predators to environments where they were once driven to localised extinction. This has helped restore past ecosystems by providing a clearer ecological balance.

One of the best-known examples is the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the United States, to check the overgrazing and destruction of habitat by elk.

Devils - Mainland - Australia - Systems - Devils

By reintroducing Tasmanian devils into mainland Australia, can we possibly help restore ecological systems that support devils along with small to medium-sized native mammals?

Tasmanian devils and thylacines (Tasmanian tigers) were displaced across the mainland of Australia sometime after the dingo was introduced from southeast Asia at least 3,500 years ago.

Predators - Tasmania - Island - Years - Sea

But these iconic Australian predators were still able to survive in Tasmania. The island was created 10,000 years ago by rising sea levels, well before the arrival of dingoes on mainland Australia.

Dingoes have now been eradicated across much of mainland Australia, particularly within the seclusion zone of the dingo fence in the southeast of the continent. The 5,400km fence stretches eastwards across South Australia into New South Wales and to southeast Queensland.

Predators

Exotic predators such as...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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