Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Mammal conservation and invasive species control in Australia: harnessing a potential extinction machine

J. E. Kinnear
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

9 Valley Road, Wembley Downs, WA 6019, Australia. Email: jakinn2@bigpond.com

Australian Mammalogy - https://doi.org/10.1071/AM17022
Submitted: 1 April 2017  Accepted: 10 September 2017   Published online: 26 September 2017

Abstract

The catastrophic declines and extinctions of a unique Gondwana-derived Australian mammalian fauna is a wildlife tragedy of epic proportions that remains to be played out. Four alien species in particular, rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), feral cats (Felis catus) and cane toads (Rhinella marina) are recognised as ongoing threats, but protective control protocols consist of holding actions that currently require never-ending ecosystem subsidies (typically, culling and fencing). Recent revolutionary developments in cell biology and gene engineering – the CRISPR invention – has enabled the construction of gene drives that offer the prospect of controlling these species more efficiently indeed, even the possibility of extirpating these species from Australia. The conservation potential of these new technologies is described and recommendations are made.

Additional keywords: CRISPRcas9, gene drives, niche-damage, niche-denial, niche-loss, predation.


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