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Species Identification in Wildlife Crime

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Wilson-Wilde 2010

This PhD research investigated the issues surrounding species identification in a forensic wildlife crime context using Diprotodontia as a model group. Wildlife crime covers a broad range of offences where there is a deliberate and purposeful illegal activity involving animals and plants for which purposeful gain is the principle motive. Worldwide it is thought to cost between US$10 and US$20 billion dollars annually. Native Australian marsupials such as sugar gliders and wallabies are thought to be targeted for their unique appeal and are currently sold overseas as pets. Numerous marsupials are also the subject of regulated harvesting and international trade, some of which are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora Appendices. The application of molecular DNA techniques and population genetics theory, in the context of a broader understanding of genetic variation within and among taxa, can provide the basis for determining the provenance of animals or their parts that have been seized as a result of wildlife crime investigations or regulation of legal trade.

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