In the current crisis of global biodiversity loss, the discovery of new species is a welcome addition. But the recent finding that the mountain brushtail possum, an arboreal marsupial mammal of Australian wet forests, is actually made up of two species also poses new conservation challenges.
The new species is proposed in an article in the latest Australian Journal of Zoology (Volume 50, Issue 4), authored by Earthwatch-supported biologist Dr. David Lindenmayer (Australian National University) and colleagues. "Geographic dimorphism in the Mountain Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus caninus) - the case for a new species," describes how the northern and southern populations of the mountain brushtail possum are both morphologically and genetically distinct.
"This article represents the last 10 years of data on the genetics and morphology of mountain brushtails where we have worked on them," said Lindenmayer, principal investigator of the Earthwatch-supported Australias Forest Marsupials project. "We knew we had two species on our hands last year when we got the genetic data to add to the morphology data."
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