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Tasmanian Devil Essay

1962 words - 8 pages

Taz and Ant; One Endangered, One Invasive

Taylor Drake

Biology 106A, Fall 2012

In a world dominated by humans there are many things that also inhabit Earth, one of those being animals. Sometimes these animals can thrive in certain or multiple geographical areas while others, due to humans, may fail to adapt and survive. An invasive species is one that has a native geographical range but then somehow gets transferred to a new geographical range where it possibly can thrive and cause problems such as the Red Imported Fire Ant. On the other hand, there are some species of animals that are endangered and on the brink of extinction like the Tasmanian devil. With the encroachment of ...view middle of the document...

The Tasmanian devil is known for having an extremely strong bite causing them to have the ability to eat the entire remnants of an animal.
Figure 3. Gondwana
The Tasmanian devil normally lives about six years and has the ability to reproduce after the second year. Mating season starts in March and continues through April. After about a month of pregnancy, around fifty or so offspring are born. The female devil only has four teats so that means that the first four offspring to attach themselves to the teat survive (Road 2012).
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Figure 4. The Original Range of the Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisii
There is a theory that ancient marsupials, similar to S. harrisii, migrated from what is now South America to Australia tens of millions of years ago during the time of Gondwana (Figure 3), and evolved as Australia became more arid (Tasmanian devil). Shown in Figure 4, the Tasmanian devil used to roam Australia’s entire mainland but due to competition with Dingoes and Aboriginals, it has not been seen there for over four hundred and sixty years (Sarcophilus harrisii).

According to the IUCN Red List, the Tasmanian devil is considered endangered due to the fact that in the last ten years, the global population of S. harrisii has decreased by sixty percent, which is mostly due to the fatal disease called Devil Facial Tumor Disease (Sarcophilus harrisii). Devil Facial Tumor Disease, or DFTD, “is an aggressive non-viral transmissible parasitic cancer,”(Devil facial tumor disease). It is spread when devils bite each other’s heads when fighting over food. First lesions and lumps form around the mouth but soon these develop into cancerous tumors and spread to the face and potentially the entire body (Figure 5). These tumors can interfere with feeding causing many of the devils to die from starvation (Devil facial tumor disease). Other threats to the Tasmanian devil are being road kill, hunted by humans, and the recent introduction of the Red Fox into Tasmania (Sarcophilus harrisii). From data collected in 2006 by Australia's Figure 5. Devil Facial Tumor Disease.
Department of Primary Industries, there are about twenty to fifty thousand mature devils left (Tasmanian devil - Frequently Asked Questions 2008).
There are things being done to help save the Tasmanian devil. First and foremost is there has been a major effort to breed insurance populations of Tasmanian devils that are free of the deadly disease. The next step in helping the Tasmanian devil is to learn more about DFTD. Scientists are trying to figure out how to stop the spread of DFTD and create a vaccine to help cure the two thirds of the current population that is infected with it.
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Figure 7. A Fire Ant’s mound.
Figure 6. The Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta
The Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta, is a small reddish brown...

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