University of Sydney joins forces with Taronga Zoo
Researchers from the University of Sydney‘s Charles Perkins Centre have joined forces with Taronga Zoo for a world-first study on the eating habits of endangered Tasmanian devils and fat-tailed dunnarts.
It is hoped the study will allow zookeepers to design diets that boost captive breeding programs to help save the Tasmanian devils and other carnivorous marsupials from extinction.
Understanding the animals’ own food choices at different life stages will allow researchers to purpose build diets to support breeding, said Professor David Raubenheimer, lead researcher on the study.
“We are allowing dunnarts to manipulate their own diets, and measuring the overall diet they target when faced with foods that vary in nutritional composition, as is the case in the wild,” said Professor Raubenheimer, Leonard P Ullmann Chair of Nutritional Ecology at the Charles Perkins Centre and a Professor in the Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science and School of Biological Sciences.
“Once we have a good understanding of the nutritional processes underlying the animals’ optimum diets, we’ll be in a position to manipulate them to regulate their nutrition in a way that achieves the desired outcomes for captive breeding programs.
“Ultimately it’s about obtaining a deeper understanding of carnivore nutrition, an understanding that then can be used in managing captive carnivores for conservation purposes,” Professor Raubenheimer said.
The study is the world’s first to measure how wild predators regulate their intake of protein, fats and carbohydrates to manage breeding, and uses an innovative nutritional geometry approach.
Pioneered by Charles Perkins Centre researchers, nutritional geometry provides a framework to model the effects of nutrients on food choice and food intake, and in turn how their diet influences development, health and reproduction. The approach has been used to analyse the feeding behaviours of many species, including pandas, mice, dogs and cats, locusts, flies, spider monkeys, gorillas, grizzly bears and humans.
The Sydney DVM aims to produce career ready graduates with excellent fundamental knowledge and skills in managing animal health and disease; and in protecting and advancing animal, human and environmental health and welfare locally and globally.
The program encourages enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds and aims to help them achieve their goals to become veterinary medical professionals in the global community. Teaching is research-driven to ensure students learn from the latest developments and advances in evidence-based practice, veterinary science research, animal behaviour and welfare science and veterinary public health.
Program title: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March 2015
Program duration: 4 years
Application deadline: October 31, 2014
The Master of Wildlife Health and Population Management is an innovative program offered by the University of Sydney that provides holistic training in wildlife population management. Students will be taught by experts from academia, industry, and government in one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse settings in the world yet will only be a short distance from the cosmopolitan and vibrant city of Sydney.
Program: Master of Wildlife Health and Population Management
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March and July
Duration: 1 year
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