Monday, February 9, 2015

[Mammalogy • 2014] Taxonomy of Rock-Wallabies, Petrogale (Marsupialia: Macropodidae). IV: Multifaceted Study of the brachyotis group identifies additional taxa

Defining taxonomic units is an important component of understanding how biodiversity has formed, and in guiding efforts to sustain it. Understanding patterns of biodiversity across the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia is limited, with molecular technology revealing deep phylogenetic structure and complex evolutionary histories. The brachyotis group of rock-wallabies (Petrogale spp.), which currently consists of three species (Petrogale brachyotisP. burbidgei and P. concinna) distributed across north-western Australia, provides an example where current taxonomy does not reflect the true diversity or phylogenetic relationships within the group. We have used an integrative approach, combining morphological data, together with DNA sequences (~1000 bp mitochondrial DNA; ~3000 bp nuclear DNA) to resolve relationships within P. brachyotis. Phylogenetic and morphological analyses indicated that Pbrachyotis (sensu lato) represents at least two separate species: Pbrachyotis (sensu stricto) from the Kimberley and western Northern Territory, and P. wilkinsi from the northern and eastern Northern Territory. Petrogale brachyotis (sensu stricto) can be separated on genetic and morphological evidence into two subspecies: P. b. brachyotis and P. b. victoriae (subsp. nov.). Distinct genetic lineages have also been identified within both P. brachyotis and P. wilkinsi, as well as within Pburbidgei and P. concinna.

Additional keywords: marsupial, mitochondrial DNA, morphology, northern Australia, nuclear, phylogenetics.

 Petrogale wilkinsi Thomas, 1926
eastern short-eared rock-wallaby or Wilkins' rock-wallaby
photo: Emily Miller |

Variation in pelage within Petrogale brachyotis (sensu stricto).
Lateral view, top to bottom of: KIM lineage (P. brachyotis brachyotis; Kalumburu, WA), VR lineage (= P. b. victoriae subsp. nov.; Lobby Creek 'Bradshaw', NT) and NT lineage (=P. wilkinsi; Nourlangie Rock, NT).
DOI: 10.1071/ZO13095 | Potteret al. 2014

Potter S., Close R.L., Taggart D.A., Cooper S.J.B. and Eldridge M.D.B. 2014. Taxonomy of Rock-Wallabies, Petrogale (Marsupialia: Macropodidae). IV. Multifaceted Study of the brachyotis group identifies additional taxa.
Australian Journal of Zoology. 62(5) 401-414. DOI: 10.1071/ZO13095

Hiding in plain sight: a new marsupial species for Australia -- Australian Museum  @AustMus