Eastern range extension of Pseudomys hermannsburgensis in Queensland

Kutt, A.S., Eddie, C., and Johnson, R. (2003) Eastern range extension of Pseudomys hermannsburgensis in Queensland. Australian Zoologist, 32 (2). pp. 252-256.

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[Extract] The Sandy Inland Mouse Pseudomys hermannsburgensis and the Delicate Mouse P. delicatulus are two closely allied members of the largest genus of Australian rodents (Watts and Aslin 1981). Currently 22 species are recognised in the genus Pseudomys (Cole and Woinarski in press), though the taxonomy of this large group has variably been considered "a repository for species hard to classify" (Watts and Aslin 1981). Taxonomic reassessment of the group is ongoing (Breed and Aplin 1995; Breed 1996; F. Ford, pers. comm, 2002. James Cook University), Pseudomys hermannsburgensis and P. delicatulus occur widely in Australia in sparsely grassed open woodlands, shrublands. Triodia grasslands and sand-plains. with P. hermannsburgensis more typical in treeless environments. Both are small to intenmediate sized (6-18 g. 55-90 mm) burrowing rodents, P. hermannsburgensis being slightly larger (Cole and Woinarski in press), Pseudomys delicatulus is widely distributed in eastern Queensland. and though P. hermannsburgensis is widespread in central Australia, it has only recently been confirmed as occurring in Queensland, despite long-held expectations of its presence (Covacevich and Easton 1974). Specimens collected in 1936 near Longreach and identified as P. minnie f1avescens (P. australis) have been recently reassigned as P. hermannsburgensis (S. Van Dyck. pers, comm, 2001. Queensland Museum) and the species has been captured frequently in long-term studies in southwest Queensland (Murray et al. 1999; Dickman et al. 1999).

The two species were considered to be mutually exclusive in distribution, with P. delicatulus noted to have an almost perfect Torresian occurrence (Braithwaite and Covacevich 1995). with P. hermannsburgensis Eyrean by default. They are morphologically similar. and considered difficult to distinguish on external characteristics (Cooper 1993). Some workers have suggested distribution alone as an appropriate surrogate for identification (Covacevich and Easton 1974; Watts and Aslin 1981), Both species derived from a common ancestral Pseudomys form entering from New Guinea between 5-lO million years ago, with the subsequent evolution of P. hermannsburgensis into an inland species during a period of Pleistocene aridity and divergence (Baverstock 1982). Pseudomys delicatulus, P. novachollandiac and P. hermannsburgensis are all closely related (Baverstock et al. 1981).

Despite earlier contentions of the exclusive distribution patterns of these two species, evidence exists for sympatry between P. hermannsburgensis and P. delicatulus in Western Australia (How et al. 1991) and the Northern Territory (J. Cole pers. comm. 2002, Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment). In Western Australia, both were trapped together in three sites at the Abydos-Woodstock Reserve, in very low open Eucalyptus and Acacia woodland, with Triodia spp. ground cover and sandy soils (How et al. 1991). In the Northern Territory distributions overlap in a band about 180 km wide. They are sympatric in the Mitchell Grass Downs Bioregion (Astrebla pectinata grasslands), and within 5 km of each other in the Gulf Fall Uplands Bioregion (Eucalytus leucophloia low open woodland with Trioda sp.) and in the Tanami Bioregion (mixed Triodia/Plectrachne spp. grasslands) (J. Cole pers. comm. 2002, Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment). This note reports on the opportunistic capture of P. hermannsburgensis in Queensland, identifying an eastern range extension and possible areas of overlap with P. delicatulus.

Item ID: 5991
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0067-2238
Keywords: Pseudomys hermannsburgensis; sandy island mouse
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Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2010 23:47
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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