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SPECIES Melomys bannisteri

Author:Kitchener and Maryanto, 1993.
Citation:Rec. West. Aust. Mus., 16: 428.
Common Name:Great Key Island Melomys
Type Locality:Indonesia, Maluku Tengah, Pulau Kai Besar (Great Key Isl), 2 km W Fakoi, 200 m (see Kitchener and Maryanto, 1993b, for details).
Distribution:Recorded only from Pulau Kai Besar in Kepulauan Kai (Ewab), between Seram Isl and the Aru Isls.
Comments:Morphologically similar to M. lutillus. Flannery (1995b:138) included bannisteri in M. lutillus because "it is clearly part of the M. lutillus group," and also noted that "the confused taxonomic relationships of the M. lutillus group make it difficult to assess the validity of this taxon." Melomys bannisteri is one average larger than either M. lutillus or M. frigicola on New Guinea, and much larger than M. burtoni from the Trans-Fly region (muscalis); compare the measurements listed by Kitchener and Maryanto (1993b:431) with those of M. lutillus and M. frigicola presented by Menzies (1996:397). Kitchener and Maryanto’s taxon should be highlighted as a species until its diagnostic characteristics can be more critically assessed in the context of a revision of these small-bodied Melomys. The Kai Isls are in deep water and not on the continental shelf connecting Australia and New Guinea beneath the Arafura Sea, and any endemic species such as M. bannisteri may be the product of a longer evolutionary history in isolation than is true of faunas on continental shelf islands associated with Australia and New Guinea.
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