Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Australia's Endangered Quolls Get Genetic Boost From Scientists

Brittany Hope Flamik

Quolls are nocturnal marsupials that once had roamed all of Northern Australia. Starting in the  1900s their populations have drastically decreased and in parts of  Cape York in northeastern Australia, the quolls were completely wiped out and have been endangered since 2005. The reason for this is their diet consists of cane toads which are an invasive and poisonous species. In one area of Queensland, it was noticed that some quolls did not have an appetite for the poisonous toads and the secret to their success was a gene that made them averse to eating toads. 
In 2016, the University of Melbourne ecologists began breeding the hybrid offspring that inherited the survival gene. They call this technique "targeted gene flow" and believe that they can fast-track evolution and even use this technique to help other endangered species like the corals of the Great Barrier Reef. Although climate change, habitat loss, and predators have also affected the quolls, the species is still thriving by using this "matchmaking" technique. 


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