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Helminth Biodiversity in the Genus Melomys (Murinae: Hydromyini) from Australia and New Guinea

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The rodent subfamily the Murinae (Muridae) has its origins in Southeast Asia. Ancestral rats migrated down the Indonesian Island chain, across Wallace's Line and into the Sahul (Australasian) Region. The genus, Melomys, a mosaic- tailed rat (Uromys Division: Hydromyini), has representatives in both New Guinea, including outlying islands (four species), and Australia (four species). The Australian species are thought to be relatively recent arrivals either using New Guinea as a staging post, or more likely forming part of a radiation in New Guinea prior to migrating to Australia in the Pleistocene. Examination of the helminth parasites of Melomys burtoni = M. lutillus and M. rufescens from New Guinea and M. burtoni and M. cervinipes from Australia, has shown that each host species harbours a diverse fauna. The helminth assemblage of M. cervinipes with 33 helminths was the most speciose and that of M. rufescens with 16 helminths the least. Nematodes of the genus Odilia (Trichostrongylida: Heligmonellidae) were dominant in the helminth assemblage of each host species. Each assemblage comprised the heirloom species Railietina celebensis (Cestoda: Davaineidae) an old souvenir O. mackerrasae together with species new souvenirs or recent aquisitions derived from the local context. The helminth assemblage of the population of M. burtoni from Papua New Guinea was a small subset of the assemblage from Australian hosts and had little commonality with that of M. rufescens. This supports an Australian rather than New Guinean origin for M. burtoni.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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  • In 2004, the South Australian Museum and the Royal Society of South Australia became partners in Southern Scientific Press. This led to the amalgamation of their two professional journals. The Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia now incorporates the Records of the South Australian Museum.
    Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia deals with natural history relating to South Australia
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