Genetic marker investigation of the source and impact of predation on a highly endangered species


Andrea Taylor. Fax: (613) 9905 5613; E-mail:


In September and October 2000, the remains of a number of apparently predated northern hairy-nosed wombats (Lasiorhinus krefftii) were discovered in Epping Forest National Park, the site of the only known population of this highly endangered species. Analysis of DNA recovered from six carcasses and a section of intestine found nearby was carried out using microsatellite and Y-specific primers. This identified seven individual wombats, the identity of three of which was inferred from a genotype database prepared from animals sampled during trapping programmes. Six victims were male and one female, suggesting that female-biased predation rates are unlikely to be the cause of the current male-biased population sex ratio. DNA isolated from four canid faeces found in the vicinity revealed three distinct canid microsatellite genotypes with very high probabilities of belonging to dingoes (Canis familiaris dingo). A wombat genotype matching that of one of the dead individuals was identified from scats of two of the dingoes. In addition, two macropod microsatellites were amplified from two dingo scats. These observations provided vital information regarding predation on northern hairy-nosed wombats, and prompted the permanent exclusion of dingoes from the park by the erection of a dingo-proof fence.