Re­vis­it­ing wom­bat hair

Australian Geographic - - Your Society -

SUP­PORTED BY AGS FUND­ING in the early 2000s, Dr Faith Walker used non-in­va­sive ge­netic tools to un­cover the so­cial struc­ture and pop­u­la­tion dy­nam­ics of the south­ern hairy-nosed wom­bat in South Aus­tralia. Six­teen years on, Faith and Dr Matthew Gaugh­win are look­ing to de­ter­mine if the same in­di­vid­u­als are still alive, how space use dif­fers, and whether the pop­u­la­tion size has changed af­ter episodes of drought and mange. ‘Team Wom­bat’ col­lected hair sam­ples from Brook­field Con­ser­va­tion Park in April 2017, from which they ex­tracted DNA that is now be­ing an­a­lysed for the ge­netic fin­ger­prints of each wom­bat. This will be one of the few stud­ies of Aus­tralian wildlife that fol­lows in­di­vid­u­als through time, and will pro­vide much-needed in­for­ma­tion for man­age­ment and con­ser­va­tion of SA’s state fau­nal em­blem.

A south­ern hairy-nosed wom­bat at Brook­field Con­ser­va­tion Park, SA.

Faith Walker peers into a bur­row en­trance, where hair is col­lected by dou­ble-sided sticky-tape.

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