‘How distance made the possums grow fonder’

This article comes from The Age, journalist is Bridie Smith, April 19, 2012

Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus). Source: Department of the Environment and Heritage

POSSUM Researchers have intervened in an emergency move to deepen the gene pool of one of Australia’s rarest marsupials, the threatened Mountain Pygmy-possum. Studies showed as few as two or three males from the isolated Mt Buller population were successfully mating with females each year, contributing further to genetic depletion of the threatened species.

However scientists from the DSE and Melb Uni have combined to ‘genetically rescue’ the Mt Buller population by removing six males from Mt Hotham and introducing them to the females on Mt Buller.

They have since tested the results of this intervention – and this year found that half the offspring are hybrids (Dad from Mt Hotham, Mum from Mt Buller). It’s good news, as the hybrids are genetically more robust than pure Mt Buller animals.

The full story is here.

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