Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Mammal Species Identified in Australia

25.11.2002


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 Australia’s 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."


A hiker in the woods might not distinguish the two species, but northern mountain brushtails in the forests of New South Wales and Queensland have smaller ears, shorter feet, and a longer, brushier tail than those in Victorian forests to the south. Although there is variability in both populations, years of morphological data collected by Lindenmayer and colleagues confirm that these differences are statistically significant.

Genetic distances of 2.7% to 3% between the southern and northern populations of mountain brushtails further support their species status. Genetic data was collected last year when the scientists were investigating biological controls for the related common brushtail.

"We were trying to find a parasite or disease in mountain brushtail to help control closely related common brushtails, which are a serious pest in New Zealand," said Lindenmayer.

The article proposes calling the northern species the short-eared possum, reflecting its distinctly smaller ear, although it would retain the scientific name Trichosurus caninus. This is because the species was originally named using specimens from the northern population in the 1830s. The southern species will retain the common name, mountain brushtail possum, but gain a new scientific name, Trichosurus cunninghami.

Both mountain brushtail and short-eared possums require old-growth forests, where they live in the hollows of large dead trees, a habitat type that is increasingly threatened by intensive logging practices in Australia. The revelation that these animals represent two species means that their populations and ranges are effectively half as large as that of the original mountain brushtail.

"Our findings have major conservation implications, as the two new species need conserving more carefully," said Lindenmayer. "Conservation is needed for two species now, not one."

Earthwatch teams working with Lindenmayer continue to collect vital information on the habitat needs of mountain brushtail possums (Trichosurus cunninghami) in Victorian forsests. The discovery that this represents a new species with a more limited range makes their work even more critical.

Blue Magruder | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.earthwatch.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion
26.07.2017 | Penn State

nachricht New virus discovered in migratory bird in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
26.07.2017 | Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>