Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

WomSAT – wombat survey and analysis tool (#682)

Julie M Old 1
  1. Western Sydney University, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia

Wombats are large herbivorous marsupials unique to Australia. The three extant species of wombat have been affected by threats associated with the advent of European settlement; however one of the major threats to the southern hairy-nosed (Lasiorhinus latifrons) and bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is sarcoptic mange. Mange is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, and is a severely debilitating disease, with affected wombats eventually succumbing to secondary infections, starvation or dehydration.

Various groups have been treating wombats using treatment flaps or invasive techniques. These techniques are very labour intensive and only possible in selected areas. In the longer term, some of these strategies may lead to resistance in the mite, further endangering the wombat population. Trapping over time is also highly likely to increase stress levels in the animals, which influences their capacity to maintain appropriate levels of immunity against parasitic infections.

WomSAT is a citizen science-based website, with associated iPhone and Android apps. It allows anyone to log their wombat (dead or alive, and their level of mange), and wombat burrow sightings online, in real-time. The information gathered is being used to investigate the nation-wide ecology of wombats and mange, as well identify other threats to wombat survival. In the longer term is it hoped that it will aid in the development of a nation-wide strategy to manage mange in wombat populations.