Critical Issues on Australian Wildlife Conservation with a Focus on Disease and Injury

A special issue of Veterinary Sciences (ISSN 2306-7381).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 July 2024 | Viewed by 83256

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
Interests: morbidity and mortality in koala populations; treatment of cancer in companion animals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
Interests: wildlife diseases; population health; veterinary pathology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are happy to invite you to submit an article for the Special Issue of Veterinary Sciences on Critical Issues on Australian Wildlife Conservation with a focus on disease and injury with a special focus on threatened and endangered Australian species such as koalas.

The interplay between extrinsic factors such as climate change and habitat encroachment have directly impacted wildlife around the world by increasing mortality and morbidity rates to non-sustainable levels, compromising the viability of wild populations. Regretfully, despite the importance of well-recognized threats such as global warming and deforestation, these still remain as significant hazards, especially having materialized in recent years as the increased occurrence of wildfires and floods, as well as anthropogenic trauma to wildlife, particularly in Australia. Iconic Australian wildlife, such as koalas, are currently threatened with extinction and the dissemination of information to the scientific community about issues causing their decline is of utmost importance to tackle threats.

The upcoming Special Issue on Critical Issues on Australian Wildlife Conservation with a focus on disease and injury welcomes manuscripts focused on: Studies of conservation threats to Australian native species, the impact of climate change and natural disasters on Australian native animals, characterization of novel and emerging disease conditions in Australian wildlife, and new features of known conditions such as changes in host-pathogen relationships. The Special Issue will preference endangered and vulnerable species, but any Australian native animal conservation impacts are welcome to be submitted for consideration.

We look forward to your contribution.

Prof. Dr. Rachel Allavena
Dr. Viviana Gonzalez Astudillo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Australian
  • native
  • conservation
  • climate change
  • anthropogenic
  • disease

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

23 pages, 2938 KiB  
Article
Spontaneous Lesions of Endangered Geriatric Julia Creek Dunnarts (Sminthopsis douglasi, Archer 1979) with Emphasis in Reproductive Pathology
by Viviana Gonzalez-Astudillo, Andrea Schaffer-White, Lawrence Noble, Patricia O’Hara, Peter Murray, Tamsin S. Barnes and Rachel Allavena
Vet. Sci. 2024, 11(4), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci11040142 - 22 Mar 2024
Viewed by 706
Abstract
Julia Creek dunnarts are an endangered species of carnivorous marsupials and the focus of multiple conservation strategies involving significant resources such as captive breeding programs. Despite the relevance for conservation, no study to date has focused on evaluating geriatric diseases in dunnarts. This [...] Read more.
Julia Creek dunnarts are an endangered species of carnivorous marsupials and the focus of multiple conservation strategies involving significant resources such as captive breeding programs. Despite the relevance for conservation, no study to date has focused on evaluating geriatric diseases in dunnarts. This study describes the pathology findings in a group of one wild and thirty-five captive-born, mostly geriatric Julia Creek dunnarts that failed to produce offspring over multiple breeding periods. A total of 20 females and 16 males were submitted for a postmortem examination, with ages ranging from 9 to 42 and 12 to 42 months for females and males, respectively. Of these, 10 had unremarkable findings. The most common condition in females was cystic glandular hyperplasia (n = 8), typical of hormonal dysregulation profiles in senescence, particularly hyperestrogenism. Rarely, cutaneous disease represented by unidentified dermal round cell infiltrates was observed in females (n = 2). Primary reproductive hormonal dysregulation was also suspected in males diagnosed with testicular degeneration, aspermatogenesis and/or atrophy (n = 3). Cutaneous round cell infiltrates, possibly compatible with epitheliotropic lymphomas, were seen in males (n = 3), and 2/3 affected males also had concurrent testicular degeneration or atrophy, indicating male sex could be a predictor for lymphoid neoplasia in aged dunnarts, especially in individuals with concurrent testosterone-luteinizing hormone dysregulation as it occurs in gonadectomized animals. The role of an underlying viral etiology is also explored. This study is the first to describe major spontaneous diseases in endangered aged Julia Creek dunnarts, providing an important understanding of senescence and geriatric diseases within a conservation context. Full article
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10 pages, 4513 KiB  
Article
Cutaneous and Respiratory Lesions in Bushfire-Affected Koalas
by Chloe Baek, Lucy Woolford, Oliver Funnell, Jennifer McLelland, Stuart Eddy, Tamsyn Stephenson and Natasha Speight
Vet. Sci. 2023, 10(11), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci10110658 - 16 Nov 2023
Viewed by 76099
Abstract
In the wake of increasingly frequent bushfires emerging as a threat to wildlife worldwide, koalas have notably been the most rescued species in Australia. However, our understanding of burns and their severity in koalas is limited; hence, this study investigated the histopathological features [...] Read more.
In the wake of increasingly frequent bushfires emerging as a threat to wildlife worldwide, koalas have notably been the most rescued species in Australia. However, our understanding of burns and their severity in koalas is limited; hence, this study investigated the histopathological features and depth of burns in koala skin, as well as the presence of smoke-induced respiratory tract damage. In four bushfire-affected koalas that had been euthanised on welfare grounds, skin burns in various body regions were scored based on clinical appearance as superficial, partial thickness, or full thickness. Histological sections of affected regions of skin were assessed as Grades I–IV and showed that furred regions on the ear margins and dorsum were histologically more severe, at Grade III, compared with the clinical score. There was a similar finding for footpad burns, which were the most common body region affected. In the respiratory tract, pulmonary oedema and congestion were evident in all koalas. Overall, the results highlight that cutaneous burn lesions on furred and palmar/plantar surfaces can have higher severity based on the burn depth than is clinically apparent. Therefore, there is a need to consider this when developing treatment plans and establishing prognosis for burnt koalas at triage, as well as that a high likelihood of pulmonary oedema exists. Full article
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25 pages, 5579 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Disease and Injury on Faecal Cortisol Metabolites, as an Indicator of Stress in Wild Hospitalised Koalas, Endangered Australian Marsupials
by Flavia Santamaria, Rolf Schlagloth, Ludovica Valenza, Rupert Palme, Deidre de Villiers and Joerg Henning
Vet. Sci. 2023, 10(1), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci10010065 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2475
Abstract
Loss of habitat, urbanisation, climate change and its consequences are anthropogenic pressures that may cause stress in koalas. Non-invasive monitoring of faecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) can be utilised to evaluate the impact of stressors. The aim was to determine if the tetrahydrocorticosterone (50c) [...] Read more.
Loss of habitat, urbanisation, climate change and its consequences are anthropogenic pressures that may cause stress in koalas. Non-invasive monitoring of faecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) can be utilised to evaluate the impact of stressors. The aim was to determine if the tetrahydrocorticosterone (50c) and cortisol enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) could be effective in measuring FCM values in wild, stressed koalas. This research included 146 koalas from the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital (AZWH) and 88 from a study conducted by Endeavour Veterinary Ecology (EVE), Queensland, Australia. Faecal samples of diseased, injured and control koalas were analysed. The effect of hospitalisation on FCM values was also investigated. Diseased and injured koalas had significantly higher FCM values than clinically healthy control animals as measured by the 50c EIA. FCM values with the cortisol EIA differed significantly between control and diseased koalas, but not between control and injured ones. Moreover, only the 50c EIA detected higher absolute values in males compared to females, and also found that females showed a more elevated response to stress manifested by injury and disease compared to males. The 50c EIA detected stress during hospitalisation better than the cortisol EIA. The cortisol EIA was also found unreliable in detecting stress in rehabilitated koalas treated with synthetic glucocorticoids as it cross-reacts with these steroids providing artificially high values. Full article
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14 pages, 7313 KiB  
Article
Cleft Palate Syndrome in the Endangered Spectacled Flying Fox (Pteropus conspicillatus): Implications for Conservation and Comparative Research
by Lee McMichael, Jennefer Mclean, Jim Taylor, Yissu Martinez and Joanne Meers
Vet. Sci. 2023, 10(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci10010038 - 05 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2065
Abstract
Cleft palate syndrome, first observed in the spectacled flying fox population in 1998, has produced sporadic neonatal mortality events over the past two decades, with an estimated incidence of up to 1/1000 births per year. This study presents a rudimentary characterisation of the [...] Read more.
Cleft palate syndrome, first observed in the spectacled flying fox population in 1998, has produced sporadic neonatal mortality events over the past two decades, with an estimated incidence of up to 1/1000 births per year. This study presents a rudimentary characterisation of the syndrome, presenting gross pathology of syndromic signs upon visual inspection, a histological examination of palate malformations, and syndrome incidence data representing the past two decades. The syndrome presents with a range of signs, primarily congenital palate malformations ranging from a pinhole cleft to a complete hard and soft palate deficit, resulting in the death or abandonment of neonates shortly after birth. The congenital palate malformations are often associated with claw deformities, wiry facial hair, and in some instances, muscle weakness and neurological signs. The natural occurrence of the lethal congenital orofacial birth defects in the spectacled flying fox presents a unique opportunity for the investigation of putative aetiologies, drawing parallels between bat and other mammalian cleft palate risk factors. Further syndrome investigation has the potential to deliver both biodiversity conservation and comparative veterinary and biomedical outcomes. Full article
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