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 Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria
22.03.2019 | Harvard University

nachricht Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack
22.03.2019 | Rice University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>