Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

A phylogeny for the genus Isoodon and a range extension for I. obesulus peninsulae based on mtDNA control region and morphology

Lisa Pope, Daryn Storch, Mark Adams, Craig Moritz and Greg Gordon

Australian Journal of Zoology 49(4) 411 - 434
Published: 2001


Short-nosed bandicoots, Isoodon, have undergone marked range contractions since European colonisation of Australia and are currently divided into many subspecies, the validity of which is debated. Discriminant function analysis of morphology and a phylogeny of Isoodon based on mtDNA control region sequences indicate a clear split between two of the three recognised species, I. macrourus and I. obesulus/auratus. However, while all previously recognised taxa within the I. obesulus/auratus group are morphologically distinct,I. auratus and I. obesulus are not phylogenetically distinct for mtDNA. The genetic divergence between I. obesulus and I. auratus (2.6%) is similar to that found among geographic isolates of the former (I. o. obesulus and I. o. peninsulae: 2.7%). Further, the divergence between geographically close populations of two different species (I. o. obesulus from Western Australia and I. a. barrowensis: 1.2%) is smaller than that among subspecies within I. auratus (I. a. barrowensisand I. auratus from northern Western Australia: 1.7%). A newly discovered population of Isoodon in the Lamb Range, far north Queensland, sympatric with a population ofI. m. torosus, is shown to represent a range extension of I. o. peninsulae (350 km). It seems plausible that what is currently considered as two species, I. obesulus and I. auratus, was once one continuous species now represented by isolated populations that have diverged morphologically as a consequence of adaptation to the diverse environments that occur throughout their range. The taxonomy of these populations is discussed in relation to their morphological distinctiveness and genetic similarity.

© CSIRO 2001

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