Professor Desmond Wishart Cooper was a leading Australian researcher whose work touched on many aspects of zoology – from genetics and reproduction to conservation and management. In his long career, which ended with his death in 2012, many of Professor Cooper's most significant contributions were in the field of marsupial biology. This special issue includes original research and review articles inspired by Professor Cooper's work in this and other areas. In addition to pioneering research into X-inactivation and sex differentiation in marsupials, he was instrumental in the development of the tammar wallaby as a model organism for genetic research. He also made advances in conservation genetics of koalas, possums and various macropod species. Several of the papers in this issue report on some of the last research projects in which Professor Cooper himself was actively involved.
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